I’m now in Lilongwe, some 220 miles South of Mzuzu. After more than two weeks of hot sunny days, I’ve now seen some rain: just a brief shower, but a suggestion of the rainy season to come. Lilongwe gets the rains about three weeks before the Northern Region so our farmers have a bit of waiting yet.
Normally the pump sits out on the rocks, across the bridge we built – but the lake was choppy when we visited.
A major part of our work is shifting water from one place to another. At Chinteche, where we have 45 large greenhouses, we pump the water from Lake Malawi into tanks, and then feed by gravity to the drip irrigation systems in the greenhouses. Our solar pumps are great for this – when we first went to Chninteche, women were watering their crops using watering cans. Modern Farming Technology has certainly transformed their lives!
Every farmer has his or her own story: Mike Mwase lives up in the hills above Nkhata Bay and has a beautiful farm – the views from his house are simply stunning. He is growing chillies and bananas, but the yields are small because of lack of water. Next week we are installing his solar pump and he has been working hard to prepare the water sources for that – in fact, the water is close to the surface so, by digging down a couple of metres, Mike has been able to create the shallow wells from which he can pump all the water he needs.
Mike with bananas and chillies ready for the small miracle of solar irrigation
Hendricks has had his solar pump for nearly two years and he is such an enthusiast for our Futurepumps that we have made him an agent! He earns a commission on every pump he sells and it’s now more than a dozen. Our mission is to bring water to as many farmers as possible so we sell the pumps at a subsidised rate which farmers can afford, and then we use the sales proceeds to invest in more pumps and help more farmers maximise their income. Hendricks does organic farming because he appreciates the need to conserve the soil for the long term. Right at the centre of his small farm is “Jacob’s Well” and the sign says 1927 because families have been drawing water from this natural spring for nearly 100 years. Hendrick’s has planted trees to protect this precious water source and he told me that even with the Futurepump achieving 2300 litres of water per hour, the well never runs dry. He was so passionate and convincing, he nearly sold me a pump!
This morning I had a final meeting with the UNDP project leaders who have helped us provide 500 pumps in the last three years. This important project comes to an end next month and the UN funds have matched all the fundraising that Guilds, Rotary Clubs and Churches have done for us – and perhaps you have contributed too – thank you! Water really does bring life – to tomatoes, bananas and chillies – but ultimately, it is sustaining the life of these farmers and their families.