Harvest season. In Malawi, the national mood follows the farming cycle. When we hunger, we become depressed. When we harvest, we rejoice. However for many people, the harvest foretells of the coming hunger. Behind the smiles and festivities, there is the cold reality that the harvest was not enough, and there may be no opportunity to add to it. That's of course where irrigation comes in, allowing families to increase their harvest throughout the year.
But there are other ways of making the rainy season harvest last longer. Storing maize is an important step in achieving food security. This year farmers will be storing maize with AWP. The storage is divided into two parts. First, we will keep 500 kgs of maize per farmer to be sold toward the purchase of next year's seeds, fertilizer, and other inputs. Second, we will keep up to 250 kgs of maize per farmer to be withdrawn in lean times, or should there be no need of it, sold at a higher price later in the year.
On one tarp, there is enough corn for a small family - for the whole year: 650 kgs, or about 2.1 million calories. The peanuts on the other tarp would take care of a large portion of the fat and protein requirement for the same family. Supplementary beans, vegetables, fruit, eggs, and occasionally goat or chicken, would round out the basic diet. The corn and peanuts are grown on 1.5 acres, while the other crops can be produced on a quarter acre irrigated garden.