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The road less traveled
Learn about Charles Malungo’s decades of service with Land O’Lakes Venture37 as a driver in Malawi
As we kick off 2021, we want to look back and celebrate Charles Malungo’s 20+ years of service with Land O’Lakes Venture37 programs in Malawi. Charles is likely the most recognizable face to any Venture37 staff who have worked in or traveled to Malawi. He has been an exceptional driver going above and beyond to ensure the comfort and safety of his passengers. When the USDA MSIKA project closes down in 2021, Charles will move into a role with the CAT program.
Learn more about Charles and his years with Venture37 here in this Q&A.
  1. Tell us a little bit about how and when you started working with Land O’Lakes Venture37?  
I started working with Land O’Lakes on July 1, 1999. At that time, the organization had just inaugurated its first project in Malawi, titled Malawi Dairy Development Program (MDDP). I was the seventh employee recruited under this project. At that time there were three women and three men; my recruitment increased the number of men to four.
MDDP was initially implemented in two districts including Lilongwe (the capital city of Malawi) and Mzuzu (in the northern region of the country). After one year of implementation, MDDP expanded to Southern Malawi, also implementing in the city of Blantyre and Thyolo district.
  1. After 20 years with the organization, what are you most proud of? What are some of your favorite memories? 
Some of my favorite memories are:
The first distribution of dairy cattle in Lilongwe district: In 2004, we travelled all the way to Tanzania to collect 80 Holstein Friesian cows and then straight back to Bwemba Farm in Lilongwe. I was very impressed with the successful delivery of this first lot of cows.
Our Malawi programs made me realize that farmers can achieve the seemingly impossible: For example, I had no idea that farmers in Malawi could raise cows to produce milk in excess of 40 liters a day using improved breeds and applying modern animal care techniques and technologies. Also, the FFPr project has demonstrated that it is possible to grow rice and get it harvested within 75 days, in contrast with our traditional varieties that are ready for harvesting after 90 – 120 days.
Welcoming the former Land O’Lakes Vice President: I met Jon Halverson at the Kamuzu International Airport in 2014, which was his very first trip to Malawi to visit the Food for Progress (FFPr)  project in the Salima and Nkhotakota districts. I felt very touched, since this was the first time I had interacted with a person of such high profile within the organization. I felt that the Malawi team was well-valued at headquarters.
Meeting Dr. Joe Carvalho as Regional Director through MDDP 20 years ago and again when Joe came back on as the MSIKA COP in 2019: I was convinced that with dedication at one’s work, Venture37 can retain its staff for a long time – Joe and myself being a perfect example.
3. Tell us a little-known fact about yourself  
While in school, I had always dreamed to do something with motor vehicles. After writing my A-level examinations in 1994, I registered for Motor Vehicle Mechanical course where I trained for 6 months.
While completing the course, I was also playing football for a local team in Lilongwe. By 1996, I joined the “Silver Strikers” in a defender position and in 1998, I was selected to play for the Malawi National Football Team. My journey with the National Team took me to several international games including in Kenya, Zambia, Morocco, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Cameroon.
After I retired from football, I joined my dream career in the motor vehicle industry first as a driver at one of the car hiring companies and then, three years later, as the first driver for Land O’Lakes in Malawi. While at Land O’Lakes, I have served on five projects: MDDP, MDDA, FFPr, L4R and MSIKA. I am very privileged to be joining the CAT project in Malawi, starting in January 2021.
I believe and feel convinced that Land O’Lakes will remain my home until retirement because I am what I am today as result of Land O’Lakes.
By Boniface Msiska 01/05/2021