Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Farmers Take On Hunger in Community

Every year around this time, Malawians are preparing their gardens to be planted at the first sign of the rainy season. Farmers in our training programmes are no different, except that's not all they are doing. Irrigation farmers are preparing to harvest at the same time they are preparing to plant. 

These pictures show the dense, deep-green fields of our newest trainees at Ngwangwa. The local Extension Office estimated a shortage of 50% after the 2015 rainy season harvest. December is half way to the next harvest, and many families are beginning to ration food, or even run out completely.

 A harvest of just 500 lbs of grain can carry a family over for 4 to 6 months when other food supplies are dwindling. Many of these farmers can expect to harvest as much as 1,000 lbs of maize from their irrigated fields.
 The farmers were trained in a strategy that would both increase their production, and ensure that the food is available when it is most needed. Irrigation is the backbone of the strategy because it allows them to grow food at any time. Irrigation provides a farmer with tools to fight hunger whenever the need arises.
 This year, AWP trained 325 farmers in irrigation and food security strategies. The farmers grew maize in response to last year's drought and low yields. Some farmers were in desperate situations following crop failures, and while they are still struggling, the situation is less grim, more hopeful. Farmers have a sense of purpose, rather than helplessness, because they have the means to respond to the food shortage. Other families are now looking to them for help.