At this time of the year, almost every household is busy harvesting. Passing through every house you see piles of maize. It is a happy time of the year. Time to dance and time to celebrate harvest. One interesting thing about Malawi is that

Maize harvest

Maize harvest

this is the time when you begin to hear about weddings and you get to see more gule wa mkulu (Big dance: lined up as a world heritage practice by UNESCO). All these are signs of celebrating the harvest. “Thanks to mother nature for food.”

However, this harvest only takes people five to six months into the dry season before they run out. Therefore, they have to find ways of getting food to take them to the next harvest. Most of them earn a living on piece work (ganyu), food for work and sometimes, when things get worse, they trade property such as livestock for food. Some who own wetland gardens grow vegetables for sale but also eat from them. The returns are used to buy food to take them through the remaining months to the next harvest. But how can they make these gardens more productive to suffice their household consumption needs as well as their economic needs?

Kusamala, through the partnership with the Red Soil Project, has organized a series of trainings for our staff to equip them with necessary skills to maximise productivity in the wetland gardens. These trainings are a follow up to a similar series done last year on permaculture design and wet season cultivation. The training starts on May 2nd, 2013 and will continue for three consecutive

Staff and families in class

Staff and families in class

Thursdays. Luwayo Bizwick, Kusamala’s permaculture trainer will help them gain the knowledge and skill to design wetland gardens that will supplement their rain fed agriculture. The hope is that this will help our staff produce enough food for the entire year and that they could have surplus to share and sale. In this way, they are extending their seasons hence regaining their sovereignty on food.

How is this complementing the efforts of the government of Malawi? Presidents Joyce Banda (Malawi) and Armando Guebuza (Mozambique) launched the ‘One Daily Cow’ and ‘Two Cropping Seasons per Year’ projects. These projects

Bizwick demonstrate water management practices

Bizwick demonstrate water management practices

launched at Traditional Authority Kalolo in Lilongwe aims at improving irrigation and daily farming in Malawi. President Banda said “the two cropping seasons per year will help to reduce hunger in the country in general, and those areas that will or have experienced dry spells.” However, launching a project is one thing, but what matters most is the implementation. Kusamala shares in the idea of growing twice a year. However, it believes capacity building is ideal if the ‘Two Cropping Seasons per Year’ project is to succeed. As we are training our staff in preparation for this task, we hope that this project will be just the beginning and that these practices will continue to spread through the efforts of Kusamala and our staff.