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Irrigation farming: reducing hunger in Malawi

Thanks to Concern Worldwide’s irrigation farming schemes in Malawi, families like Annie’s are no longer going hungry.

Heart-breaking hunger

Annie Kapolo lives in the rural village of Masewe in Malawi. She is only 28 but is the sole provider for her three young children. Before we introduced irrigation farming schemes to the village, families were surviving on just one meal a day. Annie recalled:

In the past, my family and I may have had enough from our harvest to get by for eight months of the year. We’d eat a maize porridge twice a day. For the other four months, we never had enough to eat. Sometimes if we ate once a day, we were lucky. It was heart-breaking to see my children go hungry.

Annie using the treadle pump to irrigate her crops.

Training new farmers

But, irrigation farming has changed everything for Annie, her family and her entire village. We provided two treadle pumps for the village and each famer now uses the pump about twice a week. This gives their crops enough water to grow. Our scheme ensures that beginners, like Annie, receive the necessary training to become irrigation farmers. Annie explained:

I was shown how to plant the crops so they would get as much of the water we pump from the river as possible.

Improved farming techniques

We promote multi-cropping to ensure the best use of the soil. We are continuing to educate the community about the benefits of vegetable gardens and we distribute watering cans and seeds. The benefits are clear to see: maize, pumpkin and cow peas, okra, tomatoes and onions and sweet potato are all prospering in the area.

Flourishing vegetable gardens

Annie has recently started her own vegetable garden and hopes it will flourish so she can continue to provide for her young family. She said:

Now we all eat three times a day. We have really benefitted from this project.

In depth