“Field observations in southern Malawi suggest that crop production will be poor compared to the past four years due to erratic rains. In some areas, there are concerns that households may not realize any crop harvest at all.”
From Malawi Country Director Christopher Adare:
We are currently focusing on food security in our participating villages, given the insufficient harvest that is expected. We are trying to ensure that farmers don't wait until they run out of maize to start thinking of irrigation farming. Our emphasis is on integrating the food produced by irrigation into the diet as soon as possible, so the rainy season crop that did produce some harvest will last longer. The key element of this strategy is growing starches with the irrigation; such as fresh maize, cassava, sweet potato, potato, yams, and beans. These would take the place of one meal of nsima (maize porridge) a day, so the maize lasts twice as long through the year. If farmers want to sell maize for income, they are being encouraged to wait and sell later in the dry season when they are sure they have enough food and the price is higher.
We held a meeting for the entire village with the chiefs at Mziza to give them an overview of this strategy. Many took that meeting to heart and have already planted sweet potatoes. We stand a good chance of getting the farms to a position where the light harvest this past rainy season will have no effect on their nutrition. This is exactly what Africa Windmill Project has set out to do in the beginning and has been building towards the past few years. The real results will come around the next rainfall in December when food is traditionally scarce. Let's pray that the farmers do a good job this year, and don't suffer from this season’s erratic rain.
-Chris Adare 2012