Providing leadership with an HIV/AIDS Perspective

Mrs. Eunice Chikowi is one of the ladies who have benefitted a lot from their belonging to NASFAM since its  introduction in Nkhotakota in 2006.  Before NASFAM came to the area to establish its offices, she had been hearing about the organisation from the year 2000 that it was giving longed for its establishment in the area.

NASFAM Commercial started its operations in the area in 2005 when it would only go and buy rice and groundnuts from different farmers as a trader.  It is in 2006 when Eunice's wish was answered as NASFAM came to the area to stay.

The coming of NASFAM in the district brought transformation in that it now gave her access to input loans and necessary advice on crop production, a thing that helped her scale up production of groundnuts, maize and tobacco.  In 2007 she managed to sell 10 bales of tobacco at the auction floors which brought about MWK 100,000 into her pocket from 10 bales of fertilizer which she used in her tobacco and maize fields.  She harvested 20 bags of maize which were sold to NASFAM Commercial. 

"From the proceeds of that year, I managed to build a house worth MWK 40,000.  It has cement floor, burnt bricks and Iron sheets, it makes a difference".  Eunice narrated.

"In addition that I have managed to buy some goats.  I bought four which have now multpilied to 12, and also bought 5 chickens which are now 10" she added.

Being a woman who knows what she is doing, she was elected as an Association chairperson in 2008 after attaining the same position at GAC level and remains the chairperson up to date (2010).  It is the position that has made her become influential at association and GAC level.

Being the head of the Association leadership, she played a big role to form a gender sub-committee which assists the association in handling issues to do with gender and HIV/AIDS.  The committee exists to support those affected or infected with HIV/AIDS by providing them with neccessary support in form of finances and materials as welll as counselling.  Members of the Association are encouraged to go for HIV testing for them to know their status and get neccessary support from friends and relatives.

She said, "As an association, we have a groundnut field with support from NAC from which we sell the produce to raise money to support those infected.  Last season we bought sugar, soap, wrapper cloth, and clothes which were given to those people that are HIV positive and have revealed their status".

On how to mitigate the HIV problem among the members of the association and other farmers, her answer is abstinence.  "Abstinence and faithfulness to your partner is the solution to defeating HIV transmission.  I urge farmers to stay safe because if infected, productivity is affected as well", she concluded.

During her term as Assocition Chairperson, Association memship has increases and wants to increase tobacco production from 149 bales of last season to 300 in 2009-2010 season.