It was hot on the shore of Lake Malawi this weekend and it was amazing to see the harvest of tomatoes in the greenhouses there. I was last here in August – just over three months ago – and the greenhouses on our third site were just being erected. This was the first harvest from those greenhouses: tomatoes grow fast here!
It was also my first time seeing the Chill Store being used to its potential. It is completely off-grid and keeps the fruit at 12 degrees to extend the shelf life by up to two weeks. This gives us more time to get the tomatoes to market and the 45 greenhouses here produced 8750kgs last month so that’s a lot to sell.
It’s been a privilege to visit this project every 3/4 months over the last year and to see the progress. Some of the impact is measured in the volume and quality of the fruit, but I have also seen the large group of women – now 135 in number -growing in their knowledge and skills. None of these women were educated beyond primary school level but they are smart and committed and I watched them set up and prime the solar pump; dismantle and clean the water filters; and calculate how long the valve needed to be open to give one litre per plant from the drip system. They have learned so much and are making a success of it all. The most important impact is that they have increased household incomes so their daughters can get the education that their mums missed out on.
The day before I left Scotland my church launched a month-long campaign called One Month to Live. The idea is to imagine what would happen if you knew that you only had thirty days to live – how would that change your priorities, what legacy would you want to leave, and so on. You certainly would want to do things that matter and not mess about with trivialities. I thought about this on the beach at Chinteche and reckoned I should be pretty content that I get to be part of making stuff like this happen.