Projects - Economy - Agriculture
Agriculture is vital to the economy of Malawi, both for food security for the people and as the main source of exports. The majority of farming is done on small individually owned plots in the villages. The rapidly increasing population is putting pressure on this. The government scheme for subsidised seed and fertiliser means that sufficient maize, the staple food crop, can be grown if the rains are sufficient. Deforestation is also a problem because of the need for wood for cooking and building material.
The Dedza District Council has an Agricultural Development Dept and a Forestry Dept. Fieldworkers of the Agricultural Dept train the local people in various techniques for crop growing and animal husbandry. The Forestry Dept protects the forest reserves and works with community groups to establish sustainable village tree plantations for firewood.
Easton and Otley College have been involved in helping agricultural projects. Redundant polytunnel plastic was obtained from a local strawberry grower and sent in the shipping container. This has been used by farmers in Dedza to construct greenhouses under the instruction of the Agricultural Dept. They are used to grow mango saplings from a hybrid variety grafted onto local rootstock to produce better fruit.
Easton students also raised money to buy a microscope and chemicals for the veterinary section of the Agricultural Department. This will enable the speedy detection and treatment of diseases in blood samples from animals. Previously the samples had to be sent to a central laboratory in Lilongwe and delays meant the death of animals or spread of diseases.
Groups of horticultural staff and students have visited Dedza. They have worked with the Agriculture Department and Youth Officer on programmes to demonstrate various techniques to youth groups and local farmers. They have taken useful tools and raised money to buy irrigation treadle pumps.