Originally published on August 13, 2014.
Marlon Chanza wanted to start a business that could improve the lives of people throughout his entire community. He lives in Malawi’s Salima District, where certified veterinarians are a rare find and outreach officers with a basic level of veterinary training — commonly called paravets — are in high demand. In 2012, he joined their ranks. After completing secondary school, although he had the necessary skills to provide remote farmers with essential services that could ensure livestock animal health and production, his geographic reach was limited.
Through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded Malawi Food for Progress
program, Land O'Lakes International Development has been helping to change paradigms so that 51,000 farmers in Malawi can move out of subsistence farming and into farming as a business. One component of the program focuses on building paravets’ capacity to do their work effectively.
Most of all, I’m a source of support to farmers in my village and surrounding villages. They look up to me on issues related to animal production.
Since 2011, Land O’Lakes has trained 95 paravets in Salima and Nkhotakota Districts — including Marlon. After completing the initial program, he invested his own money in starting up a small livestock deworming business. With 3,900 MWK (US $13), he purchased the necessary veterinary drugs and began charging farmers 200 MWK per animal (US $0.67) for administering his services. From this initial investment, within only three months, he vaccinated 202 animals and grossed MWK 40,400 (US $135).
Marlon Chanza stands in front of a raised goat pen, which allows the manure to fertilize the earth. In addition to the veterinary services he provides, he performs complementary demonstrations on how to construct these pens.
Excited about this success, and with additional technical input from Land O’Lakes, Marlon scaled up by investing in a second-hand motorbike. He could now reach a wider geographic area and gain access to additional animal drugs.
Although he still charges for his services, he also provides complementary demonstrations on how to construct raised pens for goats that enable their manure to fertilize the earth; he delivers trainings in proper feeding, breeding, and disease control of small ruminants; and he encourages farmers to grow lacunae trees as a source of supplementary feed for goats. Marlon is achieving his goal: "My life keeps on changing for the better. I’m now a proud owner of a motorbike, which I could not dream of two years ago. Most of all, I’m a source of support to farmers in my village and surrounding villages. They look up to me on issues related to animal production."