I’m back in Malawi this week, travelling with Charles Howie, our Agriculture Consultant, man of surprises and fount of all kinds of knowledge. We were flying over Tanzania when Charles announced casually, “I think I was 17 when I first climbed Kilimanjaro!”

We’ve been here for four days and have packed in so much in that time. We reached the Malawi Fruits office just as tomatoes and peppers were arriving from one of the greenhouses. The volumes and quality are impressive and this is a daily occurrence. We have erected 80 greenhouses and will be putting up a further 57 by the end of October and it’s pleasing that Malawi Fruits (and our trading company MFT) are now known as the go-to place for high quality produce.

Yesterday we visited our pilot farm where we are testing new crops and new approaches. Our thinking is that we are managing to get consistent supply and consistent quality of produce in the greenhouses and the tomatoes and peppers are selling well and increasing the income of the growers: the next step is to replicate that with vegetables grown on irrigated land.

We are delighted with the results so far and will scale this up to enable many farmers to participate in a project which will revolutionise their farming, give them security, and increase incomes. We will have a big announcement about this in my next blog in a couple of days.

Our focus has always been on empowering farmers to help themselves through modern farming. It’s not just about the value of their produce though, we also look to produce crops and livestock which add nutritional value. Our chicken farming is part of this and, again, we are committed to getting the quality right. This is challenging in a country where the chicken feed you buy from suppliers is unpredictable and definitely not what it says on the tin! So we are producing our own chicken feed, with orange maize, soya and fish meal among the ingredients. The results speak for themselves- healthy birds which are ready to sell in a much shorter time period.

We often say that Malawi Fruits mission is to bring Good News to the poor and increasingly we are seeing hundreds of families lifted out of poverty through their own hard work and some training and technology from us. Good News indeed!