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.
Wow. I’m reaIly heartened to see what has been achieved. I too saw the green houses at Chinteche in August, crops were underway but the supporting infrastructure was still being put in place, the chill store not yet in action. As the rainy season is about to start, when tomatoes in the fields don’t do well, the timing of this harvest is excellent. Malawi is running out of foreign exchange, which will mean it has less money to import fresh fruit and vegetables from South Africa, so the availability of these large amounts of home grown fresh vegetables could not come at a better time. Well done to all the growers, and to MFT staff, Modern Farming Technology, who have implemented this project.
Fantastic report…….the tomatoes are mouthwatering and beautiful and amazing that people are travelling on foot to get them stored in the Chill stores ready for marketing.
You are quite correct, Kevin…….what progress and with brilliant results. What a God we serve enabling these changes!
Wow! Totally amazing – I can hardly believe it – eight and three quarter tonnes per month!! Not to mention the transformation in the lives of the 135 women and their families. What a wonderful achievement.
So much to thank God for here. Wonderful that Malawian people are being empowered, through the use of simple technology to utilise the Earth’s resources in this way.