Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bees have moved in...

Farming club members now have resident bees in their beehives that will provide honeys to the farmers. It has been about 2 months since we established the beekeeping initiative. Three months from now, farmers will harvest up to 100 liters (30 gallons) of honey.

Photo rundown

Monday, October 29, 2012

Demo garden helps farmers understand what it takes...

When good things avail, the first eye witness calls other to see. But also there is an adage in Africa, which says it is not good to continually provide fish for the children but rather teach them how to catch fish. Africa Windmill Project has emulated from the adage a program based on teaching not giving. AWP is set to share the whole concept of the developed irrigation technologies and help the rural communities.

Blessing Malamba explains to farmers how beneficial the technologies are, and how individual farmers can use, maintain, and afford them. It has been just a few years and yet AWP is making strides in the areas the project is being implemented. Most farmers who have been using watering cans, treadle pumps, or motorized pumps are continually visiting Africa Windmill Project demonstration garden to see for themselves the system that other farmers who have visited the demo narrate in other villages.

To farmers, the irrigation technology is now a readily available to answer the challenges faced in previous irrigation farming. Farmers who happen to visit the demonstration garden become amazed with technology and how it is helping farmers in Mziza. To date, more than 200 farmers have visited the demo, learning the benefits and methods of sustainable irrigation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kids having fun

Pempero and Ganizani live in Mwankhundi village where Africa Windmill Project started implementing a project together with the farmers in the community.

Dorothy Chisale, Pempero and Ganizani's mother, happened to be one of the first farmers to use the irrigation pump. When Dorothy, who is a single mother, got the pump, she used to protect it so that children should not tamper with it. However, children could always go behind her back and pump water in the garden. Sometimes, when she would go to her garden for watering, she would find that her crops had already been watered. Several times she would argue with her children but to no avail. Finally she hid in the nearby bush to wait and see who was pumping the water.

To her surprise, she saw her own children looking here and there while heading for the pump. She didn’t panic; she hid still to see what was going to happen. What did she see then? Her children were helping each other: one was pumping water, and the other was guiding water to irrigate the beds. She quietly came out and her children were about to run; but she stopped them. She instructed them to be extra careful when operating the water pump. From that time, these children help their mother at her irrigation garden. They like watering the vegetables so much.

Dorothy is now a happy woman. When she is busy with church and community activities, she does not get worried with her crops; children are always there to help- irrigating crops with fun. The family planted maize in July and they will be eating green maize in November.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Then and Now

A photo taken on 9 September 2011:

A photo from the same location 360 days later on 5 September 2012:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Irrigation Season

Irrigation season in Malawi runs approximately from April through November. With the labour competition from rain-fed gardens, most farmers wind up irrigation activities in October, leaving November the remaining weeks in the dry season for weeding and ridging.

I think it's appropriate then to highlight some of the remarkable achievements of irrigation farmers in Mziza and Chibanzi. For today, let's take a look at Irrigation Club Chairman Jafeti.

The Semi-commercial Opperator

Jafeti has taken the idea of small, sustainable irrigation and run it out to its maximum potential. He's now irrigating half an acre himself, while his wife and family take care of another quarter acre. He's an innovator, too. When the maximum potential for his plot doesn't meet his goals, he simply increases the maximum potential somehow, by creating multiple pumping locations for example. Apparently he doesn't understand the meaning of maximum... Or the difference between potential and actual, for that matter.

He has gone beyond the label subsistence farmer, to semi-commercial grower. Why put the qualifier "semi-" in there? Because he doesn't grow for commercial markets exclusively. He provides food for himself, his family and extended family, and his village. He earns money to send his kids to school, maintain his house, and provide for emergencies.

Jafeti is a very good farmer and we hope he can become a very good farming teacher in his community. We are thankful to have worked with him.