From Fields to Gifts: Kvuno Empowers Farmers with Zwardy Points Redemption Programme

By Durell Namasani

Bicycles, solar-panelled radios, smartphones, t-shirts, gumboots, and sprayers. – These were some of the gifts displayed by small-scale farmers in Lilongwe, Malawi awarded to the farmers in exchange for practicing good agriculture through the reward platform called Z’wardy.

“Kvuno, a leading provider of digital empowerment solutions for smallholder farmers, is proud to announce its transformative services aimed at inspiring and empowering farming communities across Southern Africa. With a focus on bridging the digital divide, Kvuno is revolutionizing how farmers engage with interventions, turning lasting behavior change into a tangible reality. Z’wardy is not just offering gifts, it is uplifting lives. Don’t take our word for it, these farmers speak for themselves. We call on local and international stakeholders to partner with us so that we can scale to transform even more lives,” says Lydia Banda, Regional Manager at Kvuno.

Z’wardy – Kvuno’s adaptive platform – is at the forefront of this mission. With its motivating tagline, “good gifts,” Z’wardy is changing the landscape of farmer engagement in Southern Africa by providing motivational nudges that spark action. Recognizing that true transformation begins with motivation, Z’wardy’s platform is meticulously crafted to kindle enthusiasm among farmers, inspiring them to adopt sustainable practices and enhance their livelihoods.

Given Phiri, Senior Programmes Manager  for Malawi at Solidaridad

A Game Changer for Sub-Saharan Africa

“Empowering small-scale farmers in Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique with good agricultural practices isn’t just a choice; it’s a necessity for sustainable development. These farmers constitute the backbone of their nations’ food security and economy. According to the FAO, about 33 million smallholders produce over 80% of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa. By embracing effective techniques, they enhance crop yields, mitigate climate risks, and uplift entire communities, fostering resilience and prosperity for generations to come. This in turn can also improve farmers’ incomes and livelihoods,” says Given Phiri, Senior Programmes Manager for Malawi at Solidaridad.

According to Phiri, Solidaridad is fully aligned with Kvuno’s mission to empower smallholder farmers by providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s digital world. In promoting Z’wardy, we are not only bridging the digital divide but also unlocking the hidden potential of successful businesses within farming communities. Farmers are awarded points for adopting good agricultural practices which include, but are not limited to, early planting, weeding, and the use of certified seeds.

Kvuno’s services encompass seamless digital integration, comprehensive financial support, and invaluable insights that reduce transaction costs, increase efficiency, and nurture collective prosperity. By leveraging technology, Kvuno is fostering digital empowerment for all, ensuring that no farmer is left behind.

Kvuno farmers

Planting Connections

“I earned a radio through Z’wardy. It benefitted my life and my family because now I am able to hear more about good agricultural practices from a radio programme called Ulimi Walero (translates to Modern Farmer). Very few people have access to a radio in our village. It is, therefore, common for my neighbours and neighbourhood at large to excitedly come and listen to it. I am so grateful to what Kvuno has done for me and other farmers. You are truly improving our lives,” says Mary Chimtepa, Kvuno Lead Farmer from Lilongwe, Malawi.

According to Chimtepa, the solar-panelled radio is not just beneficial to her, but has also bridged digital and geographical divides to connect her village with agricultural experts on the radio. In addition to the conservation agricultural practices they have learned from Kvuno, they can also be empowered by learning from agricultural shows on the radio.

Farmers praised Kvuno for enabling them to enhance their farming practices and improve their livelihoods. The motivational nudges provided by Z’wardy were said to have inspired farmers to adopt sustainable methods, leading to increased yields and profitability.

Kvuno’s farmer harvest

Reaping Hope

Zitamandani Duli, Kvuno Lead Farmer confirmed the life changing aspects one can get from the rewards that come from adopting climate smart agricultural practices in Malawi. He also got a radio through his Z’wardy points and proudly showcased his great harvest which he attributes to Kvuno’s Pewo service whereby he was given 25kg of certified soya seeds – of which he needs to return 75kg.

“Look at the great harvest that I have. From what you can see, it can easily amount to about 750kg. The teaching of Kvuno – as well as their seeds – work. You can see for yourself. From the profits, I managed to buy 12 chickens, two goats, an ox cart and so much more. I am storing the seeds now as we are anticipating better prices in the near future. I have no words to thank you. We use your weather app information, teachings and services. Thank you very much Kvuno. You have changed my life, along with my wife and our four kids,” says Duli.

According to Judith Samson, Wife of Kvuno Lead Farmer from the Nsalu-Kwathamu region of Malawi, Kvuno helped to change her life around. Today, she attributes her confidence and community stature to Kvuno’s good agricultural trainings. “With the proceeds of the sales, I bought a pig and goats. Even better still, look at the house that we are building. It is almost complete. I am confident that if we stick to the teachings from Kvuno we will reach and surpass our dreams,” concludes Samson.

Kvuno was founded in 2018 with the mandate of scaling up access to certified seed, fresh fruit and vegetable and soil hubs to improve crop production and optimise harvest. Kvuno started off as a project under Solidaridad Southern Africa designed to; curb the food losses that were as a result of poor access to markets; low food variety and increased income. Solidaridad is an international NGO working in agriculture value chains and with small holder farmers. With over 50 years of experience, Solidaridad is a frontrunner in the area of sustainable economic development.

Solidaridad Southern Africa is one of the Regional Expertise Centres and manages programmes in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.