Michael Nkhata was a poacher who supported his family through setting snares and selling the meat of the animals that he trapped. He explains, “Snaring of these animals supported my needs, I made little money per carcass of impala when I sold to the teachers around, it did help my family”.
Despite the low payments, he continued to poach as his central source of income. Poaching was what he knew and he also explained, “From the time I started snaring to the time I stopped, I had never been apprehended by scouts or visited by the law”, and so he had no motivation to change his ways.
This all changed when he met COMACO. “I was encouraged to stop setting snares when I visited a COMACO meeting that was convened in my village” he says. During the meeting, like many of the COMACO meetings, the importance of conserving natural resources and the various COMACO activities were explained. Villagers were encouraged by senior lead farmers to join COMACO and stop snaring and how by doing so their lives would improve. This is true for Michael who is now a COMACO farmer, he says, “If there is anyone who has benefitted from COMACO activities and has seen the better life, I am one of them”.
Now Michael is a conservation farmer who does rice farming, winter maize farming and winter bean farming. With this new lifestyle, he is able to provide food for his family throughout the year and make profits much greater than he ever did for the meat that he got from snaring. Just this past market season he earned K3,080 by selling his winter crops locally. He asserts “Today I am proudly standing in my winter maize field showing peoples that it’s never too late, they can also do it”, said Michael.
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Image credit: COMACO