Dragonfruit in every garden

https://mydesiredhome.com/pitaya-cultivation-the-fruit-of-the-dragon-in-your-garden/?fbclid=IwAR32c3o64s7xEZZ8oX8-PHBQl7rvyRukXQXe4Yf5SWhiLoLXzm2X-pMEgTY

How about a dragon fruit? It may sound scary, but it is delicious and exotic, with a mild sweet taste and few calories. This is the Pitaya, also known as “dragon fruit”, a fruitful climbing cactus that can reach a height of 3 meters. It originates from Mexico and is cultivated mainly in Central America, Southeast Asia, Australia, in recent years, Europe. The juicy fruit of the dragon fruit has an impressive appearance, with an intense fuchsia color on the outside, while on the inside its flesh is white, yellow, or deep red with a characteristic fresh sour taste or sweeter depending on the variety. Dragon fruit is eaten fresh or we can make it juice! Many people compare it too prickly pears, like cactus fruit, but they are completely different plants, both in their growth and in the way they are cultivated.

How to grow the most beautiful and delicious fruits and vegetables in hanging baskets

What soil-climatic conditions are required for the cultivation of Pitaya?

Dragon fruit is grown and thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. It loves the sun and grows in dry environments and high temperatures, while it can not withstand frost and low temperatures. It thrives in sandy and well-drained soils, heavy soils and water retention can cause root rot. If our garden does not meet these standards, to enjoy its unique fruits we can plant it in a pot using cactus soil that has enough sand content. The dragon fruit will need support in the pot, as it grows along the ground until it finds a point to climb.

(Continued)

The simplest ways to grow food crops for some seem to be terribly difficult for others. Why can’t the whole world do this in any type of container?

Photo Mervin Redolosa – https://www.facebook.com/groups/221343224576801/pending/?notif_id=1594204464623569&notif_t=group_post_approval_request
Photo Mervin Redolosa –https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1220448158296554&set=pcb.3524565834254507&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Mervin Redolosa – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1220448254963211&set=pcb.3524565834254507&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Mervin Redolosa – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1220448328296537&set=pcb.3524565834254507&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Mervin Redolosa – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1220448488296521&set=pcb.3524565834254507&type=3&theater&ifg=1

We will be happy when the families of our Malawian project are producing tomatoes like these on their raised beds or pots

It suffices to get 1 single tomato, cut it in slices and get the seeds in these slices germinating to have a couple of hundred tomato plants growing by many families (see former article on this blog : https://malawidevelopment.wordpress.com/2020/06/14/for-all-those-not-having-tomato-seeds/)

Well-developed tomato plants on raised beds – Photo https://www.facebook.com/MunchkinsHomestead/photos/pcb.172712277600733/172712150934079/?type=3&theater&ifg=1
May the children of the Rumphi-Livingstonia area get lots of such tomatoes to complete their daily diet – Photo https://www.facebook.com/MunchkinsHomestead/photos/pcb.172712277600733/172712174267410/?type=3&theater&ifg=1
Can it be easier ? – Photo Dustin Schwartz – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2086134538196537&set=pcb.3508526852525072&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Let’s make the children healthy and happy – Photo Dustin Schwartz – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2086134584863199&set=pcb.3508526852525072&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Every farmer on the world can grow countless tomatoes in containers (pots, bags, buckets, pails, barrels, …)

Cheap buckets are excellent containers. You fill them with a mixture of local soil, some animal manure and sole sawdust or sand. Plant a couple of tomato seedlings in it and save the strongest ones. Learn how to prune tomatoes to get a maximum of fruits and make your children happy with a vitamin-rich supplement to their diet. Every farmer can become a splendid father at almost no costs. Photo-Gators-Green-Thumb—255234_353840101351738_1929265793_n (4)

Indigenous Farmers Harvest Water with Small Dams in Peru’s Andes Highlands. What about water harvesting in Malawi’s highlands ?

https://desertification.wordpress.com/2020/06/29/indigenous-farmers-harvest-water-with-small-dams-in-perus-andes-highlands/

Local residents of Churia, a village of some 25 families at more than 3,100 meters above sea level in the highlands of the Peruvian department of Ayacucho, are building simple dikes to fill ponds with water to irrigate their crops, water their animals and consume at home. CREDIT: Courtesy of Huñuc Mayu

INTER PRESS SERVICE – http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/06/indigenous-farmers-harvest-water-small-dams-perus-andes-highlands/

BMariela Jara

AYACUCHO, Peru, Jun 29 2020 (IPS) – A communally built small dam at almost 3,500 meters above sea level supplies water to small-scale farmer Cristina Azpur and her two young daughters in Peru’s Andes highlands, where they face water shortages exacerbated by climate change.

“We built the walls of the reservoir with stone and earth and planted ‘queñua’ trees last year in February, to absorb water,” she tells IPS by phone from her hometown of Chungui, population 4,500, located in La Mar, one of the provinces hardest hit by the violence of the Maoist group Shining Path, which triggered a 20-year civil war in the country between 1980 and 2000.

The queñua (Polylepis racemosa) is a tree native to the Andean highlands with a thick trunk that protects it from low temperatures. It is highly absorbent of rainwater and is considered sacred by the Quechua indigenous people.

In Chungui and other Andes highlands municipalities populated by Quechua Indians in the southwestern department of Ayacucho, the native tree species has been the main input for the recovery and preservation of water sources.

Eutropia Medina, president of the board of directors of Huñuc Mayu (which means “meeting of rivers” in Quechua), an NGO that has been working for 15 years to promote the rights of people living in rural communities in the region, one of the country’s poorest, explains how the trees are used.

Women from several Andean highlands communities in Ayacucho, Peru, have played a very active role in harvesting water, including protecting the headwaters of streams. In the picture, a group of women and girls are involved in a community activity in Oronccoy, a village about 3,200 meters above sea level. CREDIT: Courtesy of Huñuc Mayu

“The women and men have planted more than 10,000 queñua trees in the different communities as part of their plan to harvest water,” she tells IPS in Ayacucho, the regional capital. “These are techniques handed down from their ancestors that we have helped revive to boost their agricultural and animal husbandry activities, which are their main livelihood.”

Medina, previously director of the NGO, explains that the acceleration of climate change in recent years, due to the unregulated exploitation of natural resources, has generated an imbalance in highland ecosystems, increasing greenhouse gases and fuelling deglaciation and desertification.

The resultant water shortages have been particularly difficult for women, who are in charge of domestic responsibilities and supplying water, while also working in the fields.

Huñuc Mayu, with the support of the national office of Diakonia, a faith-based Swedish development organisation, has provided training and technical assistance to strengthen water security in these rural Andean highland communities where the main activities are small-scale farming and livestock raising.

The queñua, one of the most cold-resistant trees in the world, is native to the high plains of the Andes, and is culturally valued by the Quechua indigenous people. It is a great climate regulator, controls erosion and stores a large amount of water, which filters into the soil and from there nourishes the springs of the Andean highlands. CREDIT: Esteban Vera/Flickr

The queñua, one of the most cold-resistant trees in the world, is native to the high plains of the Andes, and is culturally valued by the Quechua indigenous people. It is a great climate regulator, controls erosion and stores a large amount of water, which filters into the soil and from there nourishes the springs of the Andean highlands. CREDIT: Esteban Vera/Flickr

This is an area that has recently been repopulated after two decades in which families fled the internal conflict, during which Ayacucho accounted for 40 percent of all victims.

“Huñuc Mayu helped organise the returnees and people who had remained in the communities, and we promoted the planting of fruit trees and connections to markets,”

She explains that “in this process more water and technical forms of irrigation were needed, so through a water fund the communities created projects for the conservation of basins and micro-basins in the area.”

The impact is significant, she points out, because in the past families depended on the rains for their water supply and during the dry season and times of drought they had a very difficult time because they could not irrigate their crops or water their animals.

Denisse Chavez is gender officer at the Peruvian office of Diakonia, a Swedish organisation that promotes rights in vulnerable communities around the world. In Peru it partnered with the NGO Huñuc Mayu to revive ancestral knowledge of the Quechua communities of the Andean highlands and thus strengthen water security for local inhabitants. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Denisse Chavez is gender officer at the Peruvian office of Diakonia, a Swedish organisation that promotes rights in vulnerable communities around the world. In Peru it partnered with the NGO Huñuc Mayu to revive ancestral knowledge of the Quechua communities of the Andean highlands and thus strengthen water security for local inhabitants. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Today, things have changed.

Churia, a village of just 25 families at more than 3,100 meters above sea level, in the district of Vinchos, is another community that has promoted solutions to address the water shortage problem.

Oliver Cconislla, 23, lives there with his wife Maximiliana Llacta and their four-year-old son. The family depends on small-scale farming and animal husbandry.

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A complex, integral and sustainable solution

The NGO Huñuc Mayu is strengthening water security by reviving ancient indigenous techniques for harvesting water from streams in the highlands department of Ayacucho. The work is being carried out in that area to ensure sustainability, because it is where the rivers emerge and where water must be retained to benefit families in the middle and lower basins, the institution’s director, Alberto Chacchi, an expert on the subject, tells IPS.

“It’s a complex system that not only involves containing water in ponds but also recuperating natural pastures that capture water when it rains and form wetlands and springs, building rustic dikes to contain water in ponds, planting native tree species and conserving the soil,” he says.

To illustrate, he mentions Alpaccocha, which was a high-altitude wetland that dried up when there was no rainfall. But since the village of Churia built a dam it has become a pond containing 57,000 cubic meters of water.

The total cost including communal labour has been 20,000 soles – about 5,700 dollars. “A reservoir of that size would have cost the state three million soles (854,000 dollars) because it would use conventional technology that also alters ecosystems and would not be sustainable,” he says.

In order for local families to use water from the pond, two pipes with a valve have been placed in the dike, and the valve opens when rainfall is low, letting the water run out as a stream so people can place hoses downhill and use it for sprinkler irrigation. Communal authorities manage the system to ensure equitable distribution.

Each dike also has diversion channels at both ends that allow excess water to flow out once the pond is full, thus keeping moist the wetlands that used to dry out at the end of the rainy season.

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“Here we depend on the alpaca, using its meat to feed and nourish the children, making jerky (dried meat, ‘charki’ in Quechua) to store it, and when we have enough food we sell to the market. We spin the wool, weave it and sell it too,” he tells IPS over the phone.

His family has been able to count on grass and drinking water – absolutely vital to their livelihood – for their 50 alpacas and 15 sheep thanks to work by the organised community.

“We have been working to harvest water for three years,” he says. “We’ve built dikes, we’ve been separating off the ponds and planting queñua trees on the slopes of the hill. Last year I was a local authority and we worked hand in hand with Huñuc Mayu.”

Cconislla reports that they dammed six ponds using local materials such as grass, soil and clay – “only materials we found in the ground.” They also fenced off the queñua plantations.

“Now when there is no rain we are no longer sad or worried because we have the ponds. The dam keeps the water from running out, and when it fills up it spills over the banks, creating streams that run down to where the animals drink so they have permanent pasture; that area stays humid even during times of drought,” he says.

In addition to these ecosystem services, trout have been stocked in one of the ponds to provide food for families, especially children. “As a community we manage these resources so that they are maintained over time for the benefit of us and the children who will come,” he states.

Cristina Azpur, 46, has no animals, but she does have crops that need irrigation. She runs the household and the farm with the help of her two daughters, ages 11 and 13, when they are not in school, because she does not have a husband, “since it is better to be alone than in bad company,” she says, laughing.

For her and the other families living in houses scattered around the community of Chungui, the dam ensures that they have the water they need to grow their crops and raise their livestock, she says.

“I am about to plant potatoes, olluco (Ullucus tuberosus, a tuber whose leaves are also eaten), and oca (another tuber). This month of June we have had a small campaign (special planting of some crops between May and July), and we use water from the reservoir to ensure our food supply, which is the most important thing to stay healthy,” she says proudly.

She politely adds that she cannot continue talking because she must help her daughters, who study remotely through programmes broadcast on public television, due to the lockdown in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the neighbouring town of Oronccoy, home to some 60 families and founded in 2016, Natividad Ccoicca, 53, also grows her vegetables with water from a community-built reservoir.

She and her family, who live at an altitude of over 3,300 meters, have been part of an experience that has substantially improved their quality of life.

“It used to be very hard to fetch water,” she tells IPS. “We had to walk long distances and even take the horses to carry the containers that we filled at the springs. Now with the reservoir we have water for the farm, the animals and our own consumption.”

She also explains that because of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 there is greater demand for water in homes. “Can you imagine how things would be for us without the reservoir? We would have a higher risk of getting sick, that’s for sure,” she says.

Women and men work communally to install hoses and irrigate their crops using a sprinkler system, and also for human consumption, in Oronccoy, a village of 60 families in the Peruvian Andes highlands. CREDIT: Courtesy of Huñuc Mayu

Women and men work communally to install hoses and irrigate their crops using a sprinkler system, and also for human consumption, in Oronccoy, a village of 60 families in the Peruvian Andes highlands. CREDIT: Courtesy of Huñuc Mayu

These experiences of harvesting water are part of Huñuc Mayu’s integral proposal for the management of hydrographic basins using Andean techniques in synergy with low-cost conventional technologies to strengthen water security.

Medina highlights the involvement of the communities and the active participation of women, who in the Quechua worldview have a close link with water.

“We see important achievements by the communities themselves and the local people,” she says. “For example, the water supply has expanded in response to the demands of agricultural production and human consumption.”

Medina adds that “women have been active participants in protecting the sources of water and the work involved in raising livestock has been reduced to the benefit of their health. These are major contributions that improve the quality of life of families” in this historically neglected part of Peru.

Many people discovered the advantages of growing food crops in barrels or bins

Sharon Hooper wrote : ” Rolling 30 gallon trash can so that it can be moved in the event of 70 mph winds. Been planting tomatoes on the patio for years. No bending to prune or pick your veggies.” – Photo https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10222933815524981&set=p.10222933815524981&type=3&theater

If this man can grow lots of food crops in some barrels, our Malawian friends should be able to do this too

Barrels are very useful containers : they serve as a rain collector, but also as a fantastic container to grow food crops. We keep hoping to see one day a lot of barrels used in the Rumphi-Livingstonia region. Schools and families should have them.- Photo http://www.countytimes.com/news/goshen-man-grows-vegetables-in-800-backyard-barrels/article_e502fa95-b872-59d0-8a7e-d1bf04c4faf2.html?fbclid=IwAR2J5HuTReGfpRBoKWbuhl2pDdqRmJgU46mXb7FuyfVoHy9xKV872ZxPUTI

You can let your seeds germinate in 2 yoghurt pots

First cut a yoghurt pot in 2 parts and put its bottom part on the lid – Photo WVC P020175 (3)
Keep the second pot ready to be put over the first one – Photo WVC P1020178 (4)
Fill the first bottom part with a mixture of local soil and animal manure , in which you disperse the seeds – Photo WVC P 1020179 (2)
Punch some small holes in the bottom of the second yoghurt pot to facilitate transpiration from the water inside the pot – Photo WVC P1020185 (4)
Put the second pot over the bottom part of the first one and press it in the lid. Thus you create a mini-greenhouse in which the seeds will easily germinate – Photo WVC P1020185 (2)
One can easily set up a series of mini-greenhouses for different species of seeds – Photo WVC P1020186 (3)

Reviving sick banana industry

The Nation Online
https://www.mwnation.com/reviving-sick-banana-industry/ – by Davie mchinga
  June 24, 2020
Chidothe inspects bananas at Kayembe Farm Field School

A bumpy earth road off M5 at Chisaka Trading Centre in Nkhotakota leads to Kayembe Farm Field School, a banana hinterland run by 20 members in Kapichira Village.

The farmers produce huge bunches of sweet bananas on an orchard larger than a football field for scores of customers from as far as Nkhotakota Town, Nkhata Bay and Salima.

This is a huge relief as the widespread banana bunchy top disease discovered in the district over a decade ago has wiped out plantations of the fruit Malawi now imports from Tanzania and Mozambique.

David Chipira, the chairperson of the farm field school, says the drought-resistant Grand-9 variety does not require much staking as the trunk is short and strong.

“The new variety is unique because it is highly resistant to drought and diseases such as the bunchy top virus. It needs less water, pesticides and disease control,” he says.

The field belonging to Chipira’s group is draped in healthy banana crops spaced three metres apart.

Before planting in March 2019, the banana growers dug square holes measuring 90 centimetres (cm) wide and 90cm deep. Their plantation is unlike many in the vicinity, which appear bushy, overcrowded by suckers competing for sunshine and diseased with small bunches if any.

He explains:  “To grow good bananas, you need good spacing and deep holes. Bananas should be planted deep for good anchorage and to prevent the premature emergence of suckers.

“We put in each hole a wheelbarrow of manure, which we mix thoroughly with soil before planting.”

From their communal plantation, they have learnt that huge spacing exposes banana trees to water stress, especially in drylands.

“Water shortage prevents the formation of a canopy,” says Alice Soko, a club member. “The recommended spacing minimises staking. The canopy forms within eight months and moisture does not dry fast.”

Healthy look

After eight months, Chipira applied three wheelbarrows of manure around every plant, clearing animal waste from his village where pastoralists struggle to maintain a clean environment.

The plants produced massive bunches just about a year after planting, with harvesting getting underway six months later.

Every two weeks, the club members yield a tonne of fruits for their families and for sale.

Interestingly, Chipira has mastered their crop to the extent that they tell when to pick a bunch using naked eyes.

“When bananas are still immature, they have sharp corners. When ready for harvesting, they take a round shape and appear light green,” he explains.

The knowledge helps them pick, grade and pack their farm-fresh produce in crates for maximum profit.

They handle and transport the perishable commodity with care to ensure no fruit is bruised within its shelf-life.

The farmers sell their bananas mainly to traders in Nkhotakota and Salima along the shoreline of Lake Malawi, earning no less than K100 000 per month.

“We harvest the bananas all-year-round because we grow them in cycles. When harvesting mature ones, we plant new ones. After all, we have plenty of suckers here,” he says.

So, how did they get into banana farming when farmers in their neighbourhood and beyond are uprooting their plantations to avert the bunchy top virus?

The farmers are part of Kulima initiative financed by the European Union (EU) through the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Chipo Chidothe, an agricultural extension officer in the rural locality, has been walking with the farmers from the start of the five-year programme spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture.

 “We want to revive the country’s banana industry currently affected by numerous challenges, including the rampant disease which has affected every district. With this disease-resistant variety, the future looks promising for the country’s banana industry,” he says.

According to FAO, Malawi’s banana industry has all but died out over the last two decades due to the scourge caused by the pervasive virus.

The disease detected in all major banana-producing districts has reduced production.

The donkeywork to uproot diseased crops has forced some farmers to stop growing the fruit altogether and switch to other crops.

A better future

Jamikere M’bena, a farmer who lost his banana field to the virus transmitted by diseased suckers, offers sorrowful flashbacks of banana business before the disease was discovered.

Looking back, he says: “Banana-growing used to be the main source of income and livelihood for many farmers and other players in the value chain, but the enemy we have never seen with our eyes brought untold misery to all of us.

“Every day, people along the lakeshore corridor see truckloads of bananas from Tanzania going to markets starved of local supply while poverty kicks in.”

Looking forward, M’bena says the future looks bright with intervention.

He says: “Our livelihoods hinged on bananas. The fruit helped us support our families and acquire vital household items. We need to find a solution to the disease which has affected banana production nationwide and resilient varieties are part of the recovery process. Not all is lost.”

Currently, Kulima strategy is led by the Department of Agriculture Research Services in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. The department contributes towards extensive multiplication of clean planting materials using the tissue culture technology.

Orange sweet potatoes tackle malnutrition

Malawi faces high levels of stunting that results from poor childhood diets and infections, with about 37 percent of children being too short for their age. An estimated 56 00 children aged below five suffer acute malnutrition and only eight percent of children below two consume the minimum acceptable diet. The height-for-age sign of malnutrition remains high as more than a third of the children are affected.

Childhood malnutrition in  the country is made worse by impacts of recurrent climate shocks, including drought, hailstorms and flooding. Without access to adequate food and nutrition, children under five are at high risk of acute malnutrition, which can result in irreversible setbacks to their development for the rest of their lives.

Mother was involved in a women-led programme to learn how to grow and prepare nutritious food for her family through health and nutrition sessions conducted by health monitors. Potato complements foodstuffs such as maize, soya beans and groundnuts which she grows on her farm. I make porridge and fritters from the potato and Chrispin likes it so much. It is delicious and full of nutrients.

Orange sweet potatoes are very rich in vitamin A. WFP estimates that Covid-19 could push a further 130 million into severe hunger, bringing the total to 265 million. 1.2 million children aged under five could die over the next six months if healthcare and food markets are disrupted.

We train them to grow and prepare locally available foods, such as the orange-flesh sweet potato, beans, groundnuts and other foodstuffs.

The Nation Online
https://www.mwnation.com/orange-potatoes-tackle-malnutrition/

Dorica Samson knew what malnutrition can do to poor children when her frail son, Chrispin, was bedridden at a rural health centre to receive nutritional supplements until he was healthy.

“While my son was being treated for malnutrition at the hospital in 2017, I received orange-fleshed potato vines which I planted the same year,” says the mother-of-five from Nambirikira Village in Dedza. “These potatoes are very rich in vitamin A and I feed my children and husband to stay healthy.

Aged two, Chrispin continued to feed solely on breast milk, refusing to eat anything. Eventually, he fell sick and was admitted to Mtendere Community Hospital for supplementary feeding the Ministry of Health provides in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Ireland.

The nutritional support he received put him back on track.

potatoes | The Nation Online
Empowered to grow: Samson with homegrown, vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes

Of the 100 million people WFP aims to reach in 2020, almost 22 million are children and breast-feeding mothers in need of lifes-saving malnutrition prevention and treatment.

 WFP estimates that Covid-19 could push a further 130 million into severe hunger, bringing the total to 265 million.

Figures from Johns Hopkins University, published in The Lancet, show that 1.2 million children aged under five could die over the next six months if healthcare and food markets are disrupted.

William Magombo, a health surveillance assistant at Mtendere Community Hospital, has many stories like Samson’s. He fears that children like Chrispin could slide into worse nutritional gaps likely to slow their physical and mental growth.

 “We have been raising awareness among pregnant and breastfeeding women on nutrition and healthy diets,” he says. “However, to sustain them on the path to recovery, we train them to grow and prepare locally available foods, such as the orange-flesh sweet potato, beans, groundnuts and other foodstuffs.

Malawi faces high levels of stunting that results from poor childhood diets and infections, with about 37 percent of children being too short for their age.

An estimated 56 00 children aged below five suffer acute malnutrition and only eight percent of children below two consume the minimum acceptable diet.

While stunting rates have gone down almost 10 percent since 2010, the height-for-age sign of malnutrition remains high as more than a third of the children are affected.

Childhood malnutrition in  the country is made worse by impacts of recurrent climate shocks, including drought, hailstorms and flooding.

Without access to adequate food and nutrition, children under five are at high risk of acute malnutrition, which can result in irreversible setbacks to their development for the rest of their lives.

Usually, when children fall sick with malnutrition, they are taken to the nearest health centre to receive Super Cereal Plus, a nutrient-rich, high-energy porridge flour.

But some children with underlying issues can fall sick again after showing signs of recovery.

While Chrispine was being treated, his mother was involved in a women-led programme to learn how to grow and prepare nutritious food for her family through health and nutrition sessions conducted by health monitors.

This is where she got the vines of the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes she planted.

Potato complements foodstuffs such as maize, soya beans and groundnuts which she grows on her farm.

From these, with the training she got at the hospital, Samson and her family of six have a rich and nutritious diet.

Dorica now has a six-month-old baby, but does not need to go again to the hospital for nutrition support.

Despite the restrictions on movement and gatherings, Samson has all nutritional solutions for her family right at her doorstep.

She says: “I make porridge and fritters from the potato and Chrispin likes it so much. It is delicious and full of nutrients.

“I feed the entire family and they love it.”

With this potato and other crops I grow, Samson has enough food.

“Even with the baby, I do not go to the hospital for nutrition support,” she brags.

See the food crops this Kenyan friend can grow in bags. Then imagine the change this would create for all the Malawian families !

Orina Dominic harvested from the bags behind him – Photo https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2061251844019482&set=a.120882301389789&type=3&theater

Onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and a lot of Swiss chards (see other photos) : wouldn’t this be an interesting addition to the porridge meals in Malawi ? Who wants to support the Malawians with seeds of vegetables and herbs ?

Teachers and mothers join forces to keep girls in school in Malawi

Both marriage and pregnancy — which often go hand-in-hand — contribute to high dropout rates in the country. Four years ago, things began to change when the Joint Programme on Girls’ Education, to keep girls in school was introduced in the local community.

The World Food Programme (WFP) supports a school feeding programme, which creates an incentive for vulnerable families to keep their children in school. UNICEF also works to strengthen the quality of education and the safety of the school environment.

The Joint Programme on Girls’ Education brings together teachers and parents to help keep girls in school. © UNFPA Malawi

LILONGWE, Malawi — Isaac Zatha, the headmaster of Chapita Primary School in the Malawian district of Salima, spent years watching his girl students disappear from class when they were married off or became pregnant. “Every month, I would receive a report of a girl dropping out and by the end of the term, the numbers were significant,” he recounted.

Boys also dropped out, but the trend was much more worrying for girls. In the 2013-2014 school year, four girls became pregnant and left. The next year, five more girls dropped out. The year after that, another four.

“The community leadership seemed resigned to the fact that it was okay for girls to marry early,” Mr. Zatha said.

Some 42 per cent of girls in Malawi are married while still children, according to recent statistics. Some 29 per cent of girls aged 15-19 have already begun childbearing, according to a 2015 survey. Both marriage and pregnancy — which often go hand-in-hand — contribute to high drop-out rates in the country.

“I knew for this to change, it had to start with the community itself accepting that a girl child’s education was as important as that of boys,” Mr. Zatha told UNFPA.

Keeping girls in school

Four years ago, things began to change when a programme to keep girls in school was introduced in the local community.

Known as the Joint Programme on Girls’ Education, the programme was launched in the areas of Dedza, Mangochi and Salima. It is implemented by UN agencies, under the guidance of community members including teachers, parent-teacher committees and mothers’ groups, with funding from the Government of Norway.

UNFPA focuses on providing comprehensive sexuality education to students. These lessons include not only information about how to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, but also education about gender equality, human rights and the value of delaying marriage until adulthood.

The World Food Programme supports a school feeding programme, which creates an incentive for vulnerable families to keep their children in school. UNICEF also works to strengthen the quality of education and the safety of the school environment.

“These activities are very important as they are addressing some of the key issues that were leading to girls dropping out of school,” Mr. Zatha said, who has been working hard to make sure the programme is a success in his school.

Mothers intervene

The programme also works with community members. Groups of mothers have been trained to provide counselling and outreach to girls who have left school, as well as to their families, with the goal of having girls resume their studies.

“Ours is a difficult job,” said Eunice Mphambo, chairperson of the Chapita mothers’ group. “Sometimes we are chased away by parents who don’t agree with our work. But we keep on approaching them until they understand that what we are doing is for the good of their child.”

Ms. Mphambo is passionate about the work. Her own education ended early, and she takes pride in seeing other girls avoid that fate.

“Sometimes people question my commitment to work all these years for free, but I can’t express how I feel every time we get a girl back to school,” she said.

“One of the girls we helped withdraw from early marriage while in primary school is now at high school. This year, she will write her senior exams,” Ms. Mphambo added. “I am hopeful she will do well and inspire more girls in this community to work hard in school.”

Fifteen-year-old Laureen Tomasi was recently helped to return to school after marrying her boyfriend. “I committed to go back to school and work hard so that I can help my mother out of poverty,” she said.

Mr. Zatha and Chapita Primary School are seeing the fruits of these efforts. Since the 2017-2018 school year, not one girl has become pregnant or dropped out of school.

But this is not their only success: The championing of girls’ education has contributed to a significant increase in girls’ enrolment at the school, from 751 in 2019 to 803 in 2020.

Today, UNFPA is implementing this programme in more than 160 schools in Malawi.

— Joseph Scott

================

THE EFFECT OF CONTAINER GARDENING ON YOUNG MALAWIAN GIRLS (Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – Ghent University, Belgium)

Our Malawi-Chitukuko project is focusing on container gardening to provide vitamin-rich school meals to the local children.

Should is be possible to install a school garden in all the schools of the Rumphi-Livingstonia region (N. Malawi), all the schoolchildren, including the girls would not only get better meals at school, but also acquire more knowledge about the methods to grow a lot of food crops (vegetables, herbs and fruits) in containers at home (see a series of articles already published on this blog).

Therefore, container gardening is an extremely important tool for all the young girls of which the dropout at school would become significantly lower.

Anyone can set up a smal kitchen garden like this one and forget malnutrition and hunger for ever

Ordinary plastic flower pots, plastic bags, bottles, a clay pot, … any container able to hold some soil can serve to grow food crops – Photo Marriz Gallos – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=277803230244560&set=pcb.3480156262028798&type=3&theater&ifg=1
So easy to grow vegetables around the house – Photo Marriz Gallos – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=277803360244547&set=pcb.3480156262028798&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Recycle some pots and bags and get food crops close to your kitchen – Photo Marriz Gallos – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=277802910244592&set=pcb.3480156262028798&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Peculiar containers for plant growth : a pillow cover or old clothes

No big pots ? No problem, I use my old pillow cover…

Tips… U can use any old clothes as long as it’s not stretchy. 

Photo Mia Wilkinson – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=719810035516529&set=gm.3479909715386786&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Lettuce in a simple and very cheap way

Grow lettuce in ordinary plastic bags. Fill them with a mixture of local soil, chicken droppings and some sawdust. Punch some small drainage holes in the sidewall of the bags to keep a small quantity of water in the bottom of the bags. Wishing you success. – Photo Home & Gardenhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNZBV3kDfrg&fbclid=IwAR1FcQrfOXBIrD_3-eGgRZ0BVJJLBqAkm9TnptHHoCAH3lRq9swRVBVcpkc&app=desktop (Posted by Jody A Moore)

Growing crops in self-watering containers

Simple and cheap techniques to keep the soil in containers moistened

We punch 2 opposite holes in the bottleneck of a food grade plastic bottle, leaving the cap on and cutting the bottom 1/3 off – Photo WVC P1010259-JPG-(absorption holes) (3)
The bottle (without its bottom 1/3th) is filled with a mixture of local soil and chicken manure. Cuttings of Salvia (sage) are planted in the bottle, which is then turned over in a yoghurt pot filled with water. That water can be gradually absorbed through the 2 aborption holes in the bottleneck – Photo WVC P1010261-jpg-(Salvia) (2)
The bottom 1/3th part of the green bottle serves here as a watertank for a bottle planted with mint (Mentha spicata) – Photo WVC P1010258-jpg-(Mentha-spicata) (2)
Three more examples of self-watering bottles using the inverted bottle system – Photo WVC P1010316 (2)

Container enthusiasm: How to grow lockdown veg in a tiny space (opportunities in UK and in Malawi)

Hana Evans is growing her own organic veg on a tiny balcony in Paignton

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52844039

By Judith Burns – BBC News

Supermarket queues and the fear of lockdown food shortages have inspired a new generation of backyard veg growers – but what if your only outside space is tiny?

“I guess I have green fingers now,” says healthcare assistant Hana Evans. She moved to an attic flat in Paignton, Devon, for work late last year. The upside is the “gorgeous” sea view. The downside? It’s quite dark inside and the only outside space is a balcony less than a metre wide and three metres long.

In her previous home, Hana had dabbled in gardening and even had an allotment where she battled “massive slugs” in her efforts to grow organic veg.

It was the lockdown which turned her from “a beginner” with a neglected vegetable patch into someone who has crammed 31 pots into her tiny outdoor space and acquired myriad handy gardener’s tricks.

She’s growing five types of lettuce, five types of tomato, pak choi, kale, spinach, peas, cucumber, two types of bean, chives, parsley and thyme.

She has two redcurrant bushes, a sunflower plant and an array of edible flowers, including nasturtiums and cornflowers.

“I’ve crammed it completely full,” she says. “I’ve got things hanging off the walls.”

Close up leaves

Hana prefers organic veg and doesn’t have a car, so the lockdown made food shopping hard.

“So I decided to grow as much as I could next to my kitchen.”

The garden centres were shut but Hana still had a few seeds left from her allotment days.

She bought children’s seaside buckets – discounted due to the lack of tourists, made pot hangers out of string and found a local nursery willing to deliver compost, which she bulked out with kitchen scraps, pieces of rotten wood and dead leaves.

Balcony garden
Hana has crammed her tiny balcony with pots

She’s doing an online course in permaculture which encourages gardeners to mimic the way soil forms naturally, and is now growing more per square metre than she ever did on the allotment.

“I’m eating so much better since the lockdown” she says.

(Continued)

Mushroom farming empowers unemployed youths

74 percent of Malawi’s population of 18 million live below the poverty line. Women have been left as sole providers in most households in Mzuzu and up to 324 000 youths are unemployed in the city despite having been trained in different fields.

Farmers in Malawi grow maize as a staple food crop and once harvested, the remains, consisting of leaves, stalks and cobs, are either burned or left to waste.However, two young men, applying their agricultural engineering skills to introduce oyster mushroom farming to Mzuzu, have devised a solution that turns these maize stovers into a usable product and a source of income for women and youths. Maize stovers are freely available on farms and are a good source of organic fertiliser.

Musheco Farm will be paying two people to grow mushrooms to sell to local shops and restaurants. They will also train and mentor unemployed youths and women belonging to small groups such as village banks and youth groups, on cultivating mushrooms in sustainable and innovative ways regardless of the amount of land available.

The Nation Online
https://www.mwnation.com/mushroom-farming-empowers-unemployed-youths/

Farmers in Malawi grow maize as a staple food crop and once harvested, the remains, consisting of leaves, stalks and cobs, are either burned or left to waste.However, two young men have devised a solution that turns these maize stovers, as they are commonly called, into a usable product and a source of income for women and youths.

Two young Malawians—Jireh Mwamukonda and Yamikani Ng’ona— Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Earth University in Costa Rica, are applying their agricultural engineering skills to introduce oyster mushroom farming to Mzuzu.

Through a social venture called Musheco Farm, the two scholars convert maize stover biomass into fertiliser, making mushroom cultivation sustainable, accessible and environmentally friendly. Maize stovers are freely available on farms and are a good source of organic fertiliser.

Trading Economics for Malawi 2018 figures show that 74 percent of the country’s population of 18 million live below the poverty line.

A survey conducted on the study of gender analysis in 2017 showed that women have been left as sole providers in most households in Mzuzu and up to 324 000 youths are unemployed in the city despite having been trained in different fields.

For these groups, Musheco represents a stable source of income.

Musheco Farm will be paying two people to grow mushrooms to sell to local shops and restaurants. They will also train and mentor unemployed youths and women belonging to small groups such as village banks and youth groups, on cultivating mushrooms in sustainable and innovative ways regardless of the amount of land available.

Musheco takes a holistic and phased approach to training eligible participants. The first phase focuses on soft skills such as communication, leadership, attitude and teamwork.

During the second phase, participants learn what it takes to run a successful business by exploring different types of marketing strategies. Learning how to grow mushrooms takes place during the last phase.

The farm will train up to 15 people in three-month intervals, targeting a total of 60 farmers each year.

“The farmers will be assigned to teams and will work together,” said Ng’ona. “Once trained, they will have the skills to run their own mushroom farms and generate income to sustain their families.”

Because mushrooms are a great source of protein, farmers are encouraged to eat the mushrooms at home and sell any excess to Musheco Farm.

The farm then aggregates all the farmers’ yields and sells them to a supplier who will sell them to different outlets such as hotels, supermarkets and retail shops. Payment is direct from Musheco to the farmers.

To enrol for the programme, farmers pay a fee of $7 (about K6 000).

“The enrolment fee will be used to produce the learning materials that the training centre will need,” said Mwamukonda.

Musheco Farm won the 2019 Resolution Social Venture Challenge, a competition that rewards compelling leadership and promising social ventures led by youths.

These young leaders and change-makers earned a fellowship that included seed funding, mentorship and access to a network of young global change-makers to pursue impactful projects in their communities.

Collaboration between the Mastercard Foundation and The Resolution Project, the Resolution Social Venture Challenge provides a pathway to action for socially-responsible young leaders who want to create change that matters in their communities.

As the team awaits certification from the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), the two youths are happy that they won the Social Venture Challenge, which has enabled them to realise their dream.

“This has been one of the greatest achievements in my life so far,” said Ng’ona. “I am thankful to all the people that have helped make Musheco Farm a reality. To all African youths, I want them to know that one of the ways to help our communities is by creating job opportunities through social entrepreneurships.

“Whatever vision you have, the time to do it is now. You don’t need to have a perfect plan, just start it.”

“I feel privileged to receive this award not only for the funding it offers, but also for the connections and network I will gain through being a Resolution Fellow,” said Mwamukonda. “It’s about the continuous mentorship that we are going to receive throughout the implementation of the project and even after that. This is a lifetime benefit,” he said.

Pigeon peas farmers press for better prices

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) – Photo https://plantingman.com/pigeon-pea-vegetable-garden/

Pigeon peas is one of the country’s cash crops and is grown in Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Phalombe, Mangochi, Mwanza, Neno among other districts. Pigeon peas farmers in Chiradzulu have pleaded with government to offer better prices and ensure that Admarc buys all produce presented to its depots.

Government intervened by procuring the cash crop at K300/kg, though it failed to meet the whole supply. “As you can see we live in this rural area such that we are not exposed to good markets. My prayer is that government or any well-wisher should come here, mobilize and find us a stable international market that can guarantee profits,”. Responding to the concerns, Ministry of Agriculture said it does not buy pigeon peas except in instances where there is a need.

Photo Annotation 2020-06-20 171703 (2)
Malawi24
https://malawi24.com/2020/06/13/pegion-peas-farmers-press-for-better-prices/ – Jun 13, 2020 
 Chrissie Mainjeni 

Pigeon peas farmers in Chiradzulu have pleaded with government to offer better prices and ensure that Admarc buys all produce presented to its depots.

The plea comes following last growing season’s experience where dubious vendors reaped off farmers by buying the produce at as low as K30 per kilogram.

Government intervened by procuring the cash crop at K300/kg, though it failed to meet the whole supply.

Fearing for the repeat of the scenario, some farmers in an interview asked government to enforce that the K240.000 per/kg minimum farmgate price is adhered to, and that Admarc must buy all the tonnage which farmers will take to the markets starting from August.

Judith Samuel who was at Thomas mobile market at the time of the interview on Thursday selling fresh pigeon peas, said if the status quo continues, she would rather sell her produce while fresh than dried.

“This is the last time that I am banking my hopes on Admarc to buy my peas at better price. If it fails, I will just sell it while fresh so that at least I should get something,” she said, adding a heap of fresh peas sells at K100.00.

Another farmer Deliya Chisale, suggested for an international market for the crop, and provision of technical support, so that farmers should produce high quality peas that would attract international markets.

Mateyu

“As you can see we live in this rural area such that we are not exposed to good markets. My prayer is that government or any well-wisher should come here, mobilize and find us a stable international market that can guarantee profits,” she said.

Responding to the concerns, Ministry of Agriculture said it does not buy pigeon peas except in instances where there is a need.

The Ministry’s Spokesperson Priscilla Mateyu, however, advised farmers to ensure that vendors buy their produce at minimum set price of K240/kg.

“Farmers must make sure that vendors are buying their pigeon peas at the minimum set price of MK240/kg. If this is not the case, farmers are being advised to report this malpractice,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Information, Mark Botomani has expressed hope that buyers will purchase the cash crop at good prices.

Pigeon peas is one of the country’s cash crops and is grown in Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Phalombe, Mangochi, Mwanza, Neno among other districts.

=========================

Pigeon oea as a vegetable : https://plantingman.com/pigeon-pea-vegetable-garden/

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) is a perennial legume, the woody small shrub that can grow up to 1–2 m high. The leaves are trifoliate, alternate in dark green shading above and silvery underneath. The plant yields yellow to red blossoms that turns into the fruit as seed pods. The pods are linear-oblong, green or red, 2–13 cm long and 0.5–1.7 cm wide. Each pod contains about 4 to 7 seeds which are subglobose ellipsoid or squarish in shape having 5 mm as a diameter.

The seeds are white, cream, brown, purplish to black in color. Pigeon peas have a slightly acrid taste, which is mainly because of the seed coat. After this has been removed, the flavor improves. They are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.

Propagation:
It can be propagated by seed. Seeds germinate in about 15-20 days. Plants will flower in about 10-15 weeks.

Harvest:
Cajanus cajan can begin flowering within a few months. Harvest the green peas when they begin to swell in the pods or wait until the pods turn brown and dry on the plant for dried beans. Remove the pods by hand picking process and leave them in the sun in a bag and they should split open, but you’ll have to split many by hand to remove the seeds.

Why not in recycled oil jugs and other food grade containers : growing Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard ?

A new container gardening action of Orina Dominic (Kenya): growing Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) in oil jugs and food grade plastic bottles. He fertilizes his potting mix with chicken droppings. – Photo https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2049873468490653&set=pcb.2049874755157191&type=3&theater
Production of food crops at almost no costs, provided you get the seeds of your choice. – Photo https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2049873645157302&set=pcb.2049874755157191&type=3&theater

What Orina Dominic in Kenya performs, our Malawian friends can do too

Orina works with school children, producing food crops in containers to improve their daily diet – Photo 38125787_1389892154488791_1593745660694233088_n (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1389892147822125&set=pb.100004040599879.-2207520000..&type=3&theater
He is growing bell peppers, tomatoes and a lot of other vegetables in bags and other types of containers – Photo 97861212_2018484888296178_8077323557958320128_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2018484881629512&set=pb.100004040599879.-2207520000..&type=3&theater
To protect these magnificent Swiss chards (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, Cicla-Group and Flavescens-Group) from the animals, Orina has put these bags on his roof – Photo 104456420_2055432744601392_3937637282440498900_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2055432741268059&set=pcb.3468375076540250&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Let us hope that our friends of the Malawi-Chitukuko project will show that they are able to copy this success of Orina – Photo 104967534_2055432414601425_7509049245577828902_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2055432411268092&set=pcb.3468375076540250&type=3&theater&ifg=1
It would be nice for the children in Malawi to get their porridge meals improve with such excellent vegetables – Photo 104405403_2055517374592929_4535266518104505788_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2052334318244568&set=pcb.3460685380642553&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Orina uses also other types of containers on his roof – Photo 104119617_2052334928244507_3275908182528101218_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2052334924911174&set=pcb.3460685380642553&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Photo 97999436_2015330975278236_5312179537839128576_n (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2015330968611570&set=pcb.3370577399653352&type=3&theater&ifg=1
What an amazing image : in one and the same container on Orina’s roof we see bell peppers and tomatoes flourishing – Photo 98213378_2015331398611527_1720360201363652608_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2015331391944861&set=pcb.3370577399653352&type=3&theater&ifg=1
We wonder if the day will come to see tomatoes growing on the roofs in the Rumphi area (N. Malawi) – Photo 97454891_2015331751944825_4446052219564851200_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2015331745278159&set=pcb.3370577399653352&type=3&theater&ifg=1
It would be a very happy feeling for us to confirm that Mr. Limbani Mhango and his colleagues are growing vegetables and herbs like those of Mr. Orina – Photo 96837011_2015342091943791_681858317739360256_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2015342071943793&set=pcb.3370577399653352&type=3&theater&ifg=1
What Mr. Orina can, should be possible for Mr. Limbani Mhango and his colleagues too – Photo 105345991_2055432944601372_4524699355331201456_o (2) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2055433157934684&set=pcb.3468375076540250&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Malawi : While the main source of food at the household level remains own production, more households in the South are turning to the markets (purchasing) as the main source of food

The North kept a higher level of own food production.

The week ending on 7th June 2020 recorded a 2 percent increase in the average price of Maize and Irish-potatoes compared to the week ending on 31st May 2020

Malawi: Emergency Agriculture and Food Security Surveillance System (EmA-FSS) Bulletin, Issue 3: 25th – 31st May [WK5] & 1st – 7th June [WK6]

Source FAO – Posted 18 Jun 2020

https://reliefweb.int/report/malawi/malawi-emergency-agriculture-and-food-security-surveillance-system-ema-fss-bulletin-1

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • While the main source of food at the household level remains own production, this has been on a steady decline over the weeks with more households turning to the markets (purchasing) as the main source of food.
  • Households reporting from the majority of the districts in the Southern Region are rapidly opting for purchases as the main source of food which is associated with reducing food stock from harvest at household level.
  • The post-harvest losses remain on high alert with nearly half of the households which produced maize reporting some form of post-harvest losses. The extent of post-harvest losses especially on groundnuts have been deteriorating with nearly 20 percent of households reporting almost half of the produce got damaged/lost from 15 percent three weeks ago.
  • Households have slowly been resulting to adopting some negative coping mechanisms especially households in the Southern Region. Overall, the main districts of focus recording the highest percentage of households classified as Phase 3 in respect to reduced coping strategy include Chikwawa, Nkhotakota, Phalombe, Karonga, Mangochi and Mulanje.
  • The week ending on 7th June 2020 recorded a 2 percent increase in the average price of Maize and Irish-potatoes compared to the week ending on 31st May 2020. In the same period, the prices of groundnuts and rice fell by 3 percent and 1 percent respectively.

Malawi Water Boards Benefit From India Financial Backing

Drinking water supply projects in Blantyre and Southern Region Water Boards. Construction of new water source for Blantyre Water Board on Shire River and associated infrastructure and the construction of 30MW solar power plant for pumping of water

https://www.ooskanews.com/story/2020/06/malawi-water-boards-benefit-india-financial-backing_179762

17 Jun 2020 – 06:58 by Local Press ReportLILONGWE – Nyasa Times

Malawi High Commissioner for India, George Mkondiwa on Friday, June 12, signed a US$215.68 million Line of Credit (LoC) for drinking water supply projects in Blantyre and Southern Region Water Boards. 

The LoC will be used for construction of new water source for Blantyre Water Board on Shire River and associated infrastructure and the construction of 30MW solar power plant for pumping of water. It will also be used for the establishment and extension of water supply schemes in the Southern Region Water Board area of jurisdiction.

Food crops on tub towers with a watertank on top

Three tub towers in a triangular position with a watertank on top – Photo WVC P1130629 (3) – 2018-07-15 Herb towers in my garden (Zaffelare, Belgium)

Different herbs growing in 7 holes per tub – Foreground : 3 towers of 4 tubs – Background : 3 towers of 3 tubs – Photo WVC P1130631 (2) – 2018-07-15 Herb towers in my garden (Zaffelare, Belgium)

The watertank on top has 3 small holes above the 3 tub towers in triangular position – Photo WVC P1130648 (2) – 2018-07-20 Herb towers in my garden (Zaffelare, Belgium)

When the watertank is filled, water runs slowly through the small hole in the top tub of each tower and from there, through a hole in the bottom, gradually down to the bottom tub. – Photo WVC P1130651 (2) – 2018-07-20 Herb towers in my garden (Zaffelare, Belgium)

Very easy irrigation system : we only have to fill the watertank on top (or it is filled with rain) and that water is slowly running topdown to the bottom tubs – Photo WVC P1130653 (2) – 2018-07-20 Herb towers in my garden (Zaffelare, Belgium)

Herbs and food crops are successfully grown through the holes in the sidewalls of the tubs – Photo WVC P1130662 (2) – 2018-07-20 Herb towers in my garden (Zaffelare, Belgium)

Even the bottom tubs get sufficient water – Photo WVC P1130672 (2) – 2018-07-20 Herb towers in my garden (Zaffelare, Belgium)

Farmland versus container gardening : My view on this problem

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

Food crops can easily be grown on towers of recycled buckets and on pallets – Photo WVC P1120140 (2) – 2015-06-06
Photo WVC P1120178 (2) – 2015-06-06

Notwithstanding some experts predict that we will need a massive area of agricultural land to feed the world’s population by 2050, the steadily growing numbers of people who apply container gardening at home sufficiently demonstrate that people are able to grow enough food without using agricultural land.

Vegetables, herbs and fruits can be grown on towers of tubs anywhere in the cities or around the houses un rural areas. – Photo WVC P1130631 (2) – 2018-07-15

People will make the urban and rural world continuously greener.

One of the most important steps in the knowledge sharing is to teach the youngsters how to apply the best practices and the success stories of container gardening. – Photo WVC P1140157 – 2019-03-27

Why would we degrade our environment to enhance the farmland area as we are perfectly able to grow enough food close to our houses ? There are millions of existing good examples in 2020 and billions more to set up before 2050. If only we have the goodwill.

Please check it out at : CONTAINER GARDENING AND VERTICAL GARDENING

https://www.facebook.com/groups/221343224576801/

If undernutrition is associated with low birth weight and thus with child mortality, one should stimulate families to produce their own food crops

And the easiest and cheapest way to do so is by growing vegetables, herbs and fruits in containers.

Even kids can help to grow vegetables in bottles – Photo –Pots-and-bottles-Louie-Octa-Cleto-26779_105522222803488_100000371328524_135272_4156978_n (2)
Recycled bottles and pots are cheap containers in which vegetables and herbs can easily be grown – Photo –Pots-and-bottles—Photo–Pat-James—528281_3689737795347_48654213_n (2)
Pots and bottles on a rack – Photo-Emalinda-Floren-Godoy-Belleza—150116_309659675829855_1340861914_n (2)
Food crops growing well in buckets -Photo-Terri-Lynn—979565_10200324377407207_1846255515_n (2)
Every Malawian family can collect a series of buckets, pots, trays and cups to set up a fine kitchen garden for vegetables, herbs and fruits, e.g. strawberries. This would be an excellent tool to alleviate undernutrition of their children – Photo-Low-Tech-Prep-Security-Consulting—303380_342552192470068_1825879360_n (2)
Rape plants growing on bags for our Malawi-Chitukuko project – Photo Limbani Mhango IMG_20200612_115600[5963]
Recycled bags and pots with different vegetables to offer the undernourished children a better diet – Photo 103872284_2046472685497398_5511224909123431459_o (2)
Bags with seedlings of food crops put on a riser made of branches as protection against animals – Photo by Mr. Limbani Mhango at our Malawi-Chitukuko project
Bell peppers growing on bags – Photo 97489574_243238960112779_1316152312216944640_n (2)
A plastic drum can be transformed into a mini-garden with vegetables and herbs – Photo 12507419_10208467447583092_236100027171183931_n (2)

Container gardening is undeniably one of the best methods to alleviate undernutrition and to enhance low birth weight. Growing food crops at home by every Malawian family should be promoted to combat child malnutrition, stunting and mortality.

Association of Low Birth Weight With Undernutrition in Preschool-Aged Children in Malawi

Low Birth Weight (LBW) was a strong predictor of all the three indices of undernutrition. Interventions that aim at improving the growth and development of children during the early years should consider addressing factors that trigger LBW.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31477113/

Nutr J – 2019 Sep 2;18(1):51. doi: 10.1186/s12937-019-0477-8.

Peter Austin Morton Ntenda 11School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Private Bag 360, Chichiri, Blantyre, 3, Malawi.

Abstract

Background: Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition is a broad term encompassing the three conditions namely undernutrition (micronutrient-related malnutrition), over-nutrition (overweight and obesity), and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Undernutrition is defined as the outcome of insufficient food intake and repeated infectious diseases. Low birth weight (LBW) is cited as a risk factor for mortality and morbidity in young children. However, its association with undernutrition has received little attention. Thus, the current study aimed to examine the relationship between LBW and undernutrition in Malawi.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using data from the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) 2015-16. Children whose Z-scores for each of the following indices height-for-age, weight-for-height, and weight-for-age were below the minus two standard deviations (-2SD) from the median of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) reference population were considered to be stunted, wasted and underweight, respectively. LBW was defined as babies whose birth weight was less than 2500 g. The multivariate logistic regression models were performed using surveylogistic while controlling various confounding factors in the six different models.

Results: The prevalence of stunted, underweight, wasted, and LBW were reported as follows, 39%. 11, 2, and 10% respectively. Compared to children with normal/average birth weight, those with LBW had significantly higher odds of being stunted [adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 1.72; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.35-2.20), underweight (aOR: 2.30; 95% CI: 1.68-3.14) and wasted (aOR: 1.47; 95% CI: 1.38-4.25) respectively.

Conclusions: LBW was a strong predictor of all the three indices of undernutrition. Interventions that aim at improving the growth and development of children during the early years should consider addressing factors that trigger LBW.

Childhood Malnutrition and Its Predictors in Rural Malawi

After infancy about 40% of the children were underweight, 70% stunted, and about 4% wasted. Our conclusion is that the intra-uterine period and first 6 months of life are critical for the development of stunting whereas the subsequent year is more critical for the development of underweight and wasting.

Strategies combating intrauterine growth retardation, maternal HIV and infant morbidity are likely to reduce the burden of malnutrition in this population.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14629321/

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol – 2003 Oct;17(4):384-90. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3016.2003.00519.x.

Kenneth Maleta 1Suvi M VirtanenMerimaaria EspoTeija KulmalaPer Ashorn

1College of Medicine, University Of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi.

Abstract

We prospectively followed up a population-based cohort of 767 rural Malawian children from birth to 36 months to characterise the timing and predictors of malnutrition. Underweight and wasting incidence peaked between 6 and 18 months of age, whereas stunting incidence was highest during the first 6 months of age.

After infancy about 40% of the children were underweight, 70% stunted, and about 4% wasted. Small size during the first 3 months of life predicted the incidence of severe underweight (relative risk [95% confidence interval], 1.8 [0.9, 3.4]), severe stunting ( 2.1 [1.3, 3.4]), and moderate wasting (2.0 [1.1, 3.5]).

Children with many illness episodes in infancy had a twofold risk for the development of severe underweight and moderate wasting. Severe underweight was further predicted by residence far away from a health facility and moderate wasting by maternal HIV infection.

Our conclusion is that the intra-uterine period and first 6 months of life are critical for the development of stunting whereas the subsequent year is more critical for the development of underweight and wasting. Strategies combating intrauterine growth retardation, maternal HIV and infant morbidity are likely to reduce the burden of malnutrition in this population.

Share your knowledge with your neighbours and friends, but also with the nearby schools

Some people have the privilege and pleasure to learn a lot from their contacts with experts and colleagues with a lot of experience in a particular field. Such well-informed persons are able to share their knowledge at regular intervals with their neighbours and friends. They can even go to schools and talk to the youngsters about specific subjects, e.g. how to grow food crops in containers or on raised beds.

Here is a splendid example of a female farmer in The Philippines (Asia), who invited her farmer-neighbours on some meetings at her home to show them some of the methods she learned herself before at a development project. Back home from the project, she started applying the techniques of container gardening and raised beds she had learned. Now she was able to show her friends the good practices and successes she had booked. And that group of farmers returned home with the conviction that they are able to book the same good results in producing excellent food crops.

Mrs. Chita Alvarez Luzong (left in front) with her neighbours at her “Knowledge sharing” meeting, all standing around a raised bed with remarkable cabbages.
Mrs. Chita explaining the advantages of raised beds in which the local soil is improved in a spectacular way by adding a lot of organic components like compost, animal droppings and sawdust. – Photo 46076612_1941095529269310_1796291443585712128_n (2)
Visitors admiring the raised beds with very fertile soil on which lettuce is growing spectacularly.- Photo 41695120_1866604460051751_3283900168813936640_n (2)
Mrs. Chita proudly showing the final result of het raised beds with lettuce. – Photo 29572407_1655072777871588_7300277509492818611_n (4)
The farmer-neighbours returned home with a lot of information on raised beds and container gardening, e.g. on growing cuttings of fruit trees in containers. See also a number of plastic bags in the background. – Photo 41654860_1864177486961115_1568061408371802112_n (2)

We can only express our hope that meetings like the ones organized by Mrs. Chita Alvarez Luzong will lead to similar positive results for our Malawi-Chitukuko project.

Do our Malawian friends like the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) ?

The sugar-apple, or sweetsop, is the fruit of Annona squamosa, the most widely grown species of Annona and a native of the tropical Americas and West Indies. In Malawi, it is called “mpoza” in chewa.

A variety of Purple sugar-apple, sweet-apple or Purple Atis. – Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=930052947040245&set=a.370464642999081&type=3&theater

WIKIPEDIA : The fruit is spherical-conical, 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) in diameter and 6–10 cm (2.4–3.9 in) long, and weighing 100–240 g (3.5–8.5 oz), with a thick rind composed of knobby segments. The color is typically pale green through blue-green, with a deep pink blush in certain varieties, and typically has a bloom. It is unique among Annona fruits in being segmented, and the segments tend to separate when ripe, exposing the interior.

Photo https://stylesatlife.com/articles/custard-apple-benefits/

The flesh is fragrant and sweet, creamy white through light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard. It is found adhering to 13-to-16-millimetre-long (0.51 to 0.63 in) seeds forming individual segments arranged in a single layer around a conical core. It is soft, slightly grainy, and slippery. The hard, shiny seeds may number 20–40 or more per fruit and have a brown to black coat, although varieties exist that are almost seedless.

The seeds can be grown in containers before the saplings are planted in the field. – Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2241330875912439&set=a.1615984958447037&type=3&theater
Some saplings can be kept in a container close to the house. Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2232407833471410&set=a.1615984958447037&type=3&theater

Wouldn’t it be nice if our friends of the Malawi-Chitukuko project could grow these sugar-apples for their family members, or for additional income via the market or the nearby hotels ?

How do you start collecting free seeds of your food crops ?

Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong – Masbate City – The Philippines – 28277293_1615984461780420_89735165698916283_n (2)

STEP 1 : Fill some bigger containers with an organic rich mixture of local soil and compost. In this picture you can see drinking water tanks at the left and canisters at the right. But you can also use bags, sacks, bins, tubs, etc.

STEP 2 : Plant the food crops of your choice in these containers, e.g. cabbage, rape, kale, broccoli, lettuce, celery, etc.

STEP 3 : Keep the plants growing, flowering and fruiting until their fruits are completely ripe (do not harvest). Inside the fruits a number of seeds will be developed. The fruits will gradually dry out (losing their green colour) and the seeds will be ripening inside the fruits.

STEP 4 : When the fruits are completely dry they contain many ripe seeds. Now you can collect the fruits and keep them for a while indoors in a dry place, e.g. in a cardboard box. Some of them will jump open themselves and set the seeds free. Others can be opened under a light pressure.

STEP 5 : Collect the clean seeds in a paper envelope without the remains of the fruits. Keep the seeds in a dry location, ready for the next season.

In doing so you will be able to get free seeds in a sufficient number to grow all the food crops you want during the next season.

Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong (The Philippines) : 28276365_1615984355113764_7791651215957049892_n (2)

Introducing the cultivation of dragonfruit (Hylocereus undatus)

Should there be a chance to introduce the dragonfruit cactus in our Malawi-Chitukuko project, it would offer a lot of opportunities to see the children eating its excellent fruits and to have the local producers taking the fruits to the market and the hotels for an interesting supplement of annual income.

Chita Alvarez Luzong, at the right with a white T-shirt, a farmer of Masbate City (The Philippines), introducing some female farmer-colleagues in the cultivation and benefits of the dragonfruit cactus. – Photo 43951015_1902052139840316_391390177727086592_n (2)
This cactus is extremely easy to grow. Once adult, it produces masses of fruits. Here we see only a few specimens, but the production is generally very abundant. – Photo 44039106_1902052369840293_3161471670774923264_n (2)
Chita Alvarez Luzong with a load of fruits ready to be taken to the market. – Photo 40004193_1840087296036801_3851196770872721408_n (2)
Imagine the raise of annual income for the farmers taking these magnificent fruits to the market or the nearby hotel. – Photo 65550807_2281329775245882_6327759232544276480_n (2)

A nice example of a container garden with drinking water tanks

Here is a remarkable example of a container garden built by Chita Alvarez Luzong in Masbate City (The Philippines). It’s a garden on a rooftop ! Chita wrote : “My son Christian Alvarez Luzong will be conducting lectures and actual training on container gardening. Forget your frustration and discover how to grow your own kitchen garden in your limited spaces“.

We hope that this example will be followed by our Malawian friends. Should these plastic drinking water tanks not be available, any other type of container (bags, sacks, bins, tubs, …) can lead to similar extraordinary successes.

Preparation of the container garden with a number of drinking water tanks, filled with organic potting soil – Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1615984928447040&set=a.1615984958447037&type=3&theater
Preparation of the container garden – Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1615984518447081&set=a.1615984958447037&type=3&theater
These are tomatoes (left) and eggplants on the rooftop. From 14 to 21 pieces of fruits on 1 single plant. – Photo Chita Alvarez Luzong https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3017746918270827&set=a.370464642999081&type=3&theater

For all those not having tomato seeds

Tomato seedlings grown from one tomato slice – You can thin them or repot them separately to get an interesting number of tomato plants – Photo 92895520_10159867359674196_1219487987251806208_n (2)
After thinning, the tomato seedlings start to develop their first leaves – Photo Balbir Bist Veteran – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3030053440408725&set=gm.3272671429443950&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Young tomato plants growing in a bamboo cage to keep the stems upright. If you can’t buy a metal cage, you can always build your own cheap cage with green bamboo stems – Photo Wesley Obed https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10220176799123094&set=pcb.3399309770113448&type=3&theater&ifg=1
It shouldn’t be too difficult to get a nice cage for your tomatoes – Photo Wesley Obed https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10220176800123119&set=pcb.3399309770113448&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Tomato plants can get quite tall before flowering and fruiting. Here they are kept upright in a metal cage. – Photo Kimberley Butterbaugh https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156960243301498&set=gm.3421997744511317&type=3&theater&ifg=1
It is interesting to plant some marigolds (Tagetes) together with the tomatoes to keep white flies and other bugs away – Photo Beverly Delahunty https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2979158362191478&set=gm.3341331949244564&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Growing these fantastic tomatoes is so simple that we don’t understand why not all the Malawian families have some tomato containers close to their home. Can’t they buy one single tomato at the market and grow a good number of tomato plants to feed their family ? – Photo https://dengarden.com/gardening/grow-tomatoes-containers-pots-bags-growing-how-to-container-gardening-in-fruits-vegetables
We hope that all the families of our Malawi-Chitukuko project will give the best example to the rest of their country. If you want to alleviate child malnutrition and hunger, you can start with a free production of vitamin and mineral rich tomatoes by getting one single tomato and grow every year hundreds of juicy fruits at no costs – Photo https://dengarden.com/gardening/grow-tomatoes-containers-pots-bags-growing-how-to-container-gardening-in-fruits-vegetables

A couple of PVC-tubes and a bucket would be fantastic to offer every family some juicy strawberries. Go for it !

Photo Erik Lammens (Lochristi, Belgium) – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=681236559119112&set=gm.2681207808801782&type=3&theater

Get a bucket filled with local soil. It keeps the vertical tube upright.

Get a PVC-tube (10-12 cm diameter) in which you drill holes (7-8 cm diameter).

Get a second PVC-tube (3-4 cm diameter) in which you drill fine drainage holes (3 mm diameter) over the full length.

Put the second tube inside the first one. It can be filled with water from time to time.

Fill the first tube (around the second tube) with a moistened mixture of local soil and some animal manure or compost.

Plant young strawberry plants in the holes of the first tube.

Fill the second (inner) tube with water. That water will moisten the soil in the bigger tube through the fine (3 mm) drainage holes.

Thus the strawberry plants will grow in a well moistened and fertile soil.

Success !

Next Stop for Cannabis Industry Investors: Malawi

CBD Testers
https://cbdtesters.co/2020/06/12/next-stop-for-cannabis-industry-investors-malawi/

by Sarah Friedman – I am a US born writer, travelling the world and doing the digital nomad thing.

Conclusion

Malawi is likely not the last African country to jump into the new legal medical cannabis market. In fact, several others in the general southern region (and elsewhere) are already looking into updating legislation to take part. For anyone interested in Malawi, or Africa in general, as a place for their own possible investment, a close watch should be kept on news coming out about pricing and particular laws and requirements for whatever kind of establishment is in mind. Chances are, within the next several months we’ll start hearing about all the new deals going down in Malawi’s new legal cannabis market.

======================

As members of the development project Malawi-Chitukuko we are continuously producing efforts to alleviate malnutrition and hunger in Malawi.

What is more important for the Malawians, to grow cannabis for money or food crops to keep their children and parents alive ?

https://www.unicef.org/malawi/sites/unicef.org.malawi/files/2018-09/UNICEF_Nutrition_Factsheet_2018.pdf

Rape production in bags at our Chitukuko project

Photo Limbani Mhango, Executive Director, UMOZA Organization – IMG_20200612_115538[5962]
Photo Limbani Mhango, Executive Director, UMOZA Organization – IMG_20200612_115548[5964]
Photo Limbani Mhango, Executive Director, UMOZA Organization – IMG_20200612_115553[5965]
Photo Limbani Mhango, Executive Director, UMOZA Organization – IMG_20200612_115600[5963]

How to Grow Lettuce in Containers and Bags in a Small Garden

https://dengarden.com/gardening/How-to-Grow-Lettuce-in-Containers-Growing-Planting-Seeds-Container-Pots-a-Small-Garden-Patio-Balcony-Harvest-Harvesting

by L M Reid 

Planting, growing and harvesting different varieties of lettuce plants is easy and great fun.

I show you

  • How much sun and water the lettuce plant needs to grow.
  • How many lettuce seeds do you plant in one hole?
  • How long does it take for a lettuce seed to germinate?

If you have a small garden or only a yard or patio then you can successfully plant lettuce seeds in containers or pots for a great harvest.

Young Lettuce Plants growing in a container
Young Lettuce Plants growing in a container | Source

Which Variety of Lettuce to Grow

There are numerous varieties of lettuce that can be grown very successfully. They all have different tastes and textures. If you are not sure which lettuces to grow you can buy a mixed seed packet and see which ones you prefer. Lettuce is prone to be eaten and damaged by slugs and other garden pests. There are a few simple ways to protect your plants which I will explain here.

When to Sow

Plant out lettuce seeds in early spring once the frosts have gone. That is March or April here in Ireland. Lettuce grows best in sheltered areas with a few hours of direct sunlight.

Which Containers to Use

Plastic pots or large garden bags are best. They do not have to be too deep but a wider surface allows you to grow more lettuce.plants. Do not use clay pots because there is always the danger of the soil drying out in summer. All containers used must have proper drainage to avoid water logging the plants.

How to grow lettuce seeds in the garden
How to grow lettuce seeds in the garden | Source

Planting Lettuce Seeds

You can plant lettuce seeds directly into your containers or pots or put them into seed trays. I prefer to plant them in seeding trays and then transplanting them into the containers. This way I have more control over how the lettuce grows.

How to Plant Into Trays

  1. Add fresh compost into the trays and water well.
  2. Take out a few seeds and put into the palm of your hand.
  3. Using your other hand pinch out a few seeds and sprinkle onto the soil.
  4. If the tray has compartments put four into each corner.
  5. If the tray is open then make a line down the soil before you place the seeds into it.
  6. Lettuce seeds are very small so you are bound to get a few bunched together.
  7. Move them around with a thin stick if possible but if not you can thin them out later.
How To Grow Lettuce
How To Grow Lettuce | Source

Germination

  1. Cover the seeds very lightly with some compost.
  2. Water with a watering can with the spray attachment.
  3. Place the trays in a sheltered but sunny position either in the garden or on your patio.
  4. Do not let the seed tray dry out but at the same time do not over water.
  5. It will take about two weeks for the seeds to germinate.
  6. Once you see that they have four leaves and are about two to three inches high then it is time to transplant them into the containers.

Transplanting

  1. Make sure whatever pot you are using to grow the lettuce has plenty of drainage.
  2. Prepare the containers by filling with new compost and water well.
  3. Soil from the garden or compost used last year is not suitable.
  4. Make small holes in the soil where you want to put the plants.
  5. For the varieties that grow a heart you will need to leave more space between plants, around eight inches.
  6. For the varieties where there are only leaves you can space them closer together.
  7. Gently pick out the plants by the roots from the seed trays by using a thin stick
  8. Put into the container and firm the soil around the plants.
  9. Give a very light sprinkle of water.
  10. Add mulch to the soil. This will cut down on weeds and help keep in the moisture.

Protection

How to protect lettuce plants in pots and containers. By adding a mulch of straw or bark you are giving the plants the ideal conditions for healthy growth. You also need to protect them form slugs, snails and birds.

  1. Collect the egg shells from your kitchen into a small box.
  2. When you have a few crush then into tiny pieces.
  3. Place them around the surface of the container making sure to add more around the base of the plants.
  4. The sharpness of the shells will stop slugs, snails and birds from eating your lettuce.plants
  5. They do not like the sharp surface so will avoid it.

Directly Into Containers

  1. Prepare the container as per directions set out above.
  2. Scatter the seeds as thinly as possible onto the soil.
  3. Once the seedlings have germinated and are around two to three inches high with four leaves then it is time to thin them out.
  4. Pick the best looking plants to keep and gently pick out the smaller weaker plants with a thin stick.
  5. You can transplant these into another pot if you have not damaged them.
  6. Continue to look after the plants as set out above.
How to Grow Lettuce and Scallions
How to Grow Lettuce and Scallions | Source

When to Harvest

  1. For the leaf lettuce it can be picked at around twenty five days after planting.
  2. Earlier if you like smaller leaves.
  3. Always pick from the outer side of the plant as this will allow the lettuce to produce more leaves.
  4. I only pick what I am using that day as that way you can eat your lettuce at its freshest.
  5. The leaf lettuce varieties grow for about five to six weeks after planting.
  6. Once they have matured the whole plant should be cut with a knife.
  7. Gather the leaves in one hand and cut at the bottom leaving the roots still in the soil.
  8. For all heart lettuce varieties it take about six to seven weeks for the plants to mature.
  9. You can pick some of the outer leaves from these too while it is maturing.
  10. Cut the head lettuce at the base of the plant with a sharp knife.
  11. This way you are not disturbing other plants in the container.
  12. You can remove the remainder of the roots when all the lettuce and other vegetables have been harvested.

Just tell me, who wouldn’t like to grow these greens at home in Malawi ? On a bag or another container !

Growing greens on a bag – Photo Orina Dominic – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2046470522164281&set=pcb.3446711585373266&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Would it be better in a field ? – Photo Orina Dominic – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2046471285497538&set=pcb.3446711585373266&type=3&theater&ifg=1
How nice to grow greens at the top of the bag, but also on the sidewall – Photo Orina Dominic – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2046471878830812&set=pcb.3446711585373266&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Choose the grens you prefer, they all grow on bags – Photo Orina Dominic – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2046472682164065&set=pcb.3446711585373266&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Maximal production of fresh crops by planting on top and on the sidewall of the bag. Who denies that this isn’t a perfect system to alleviate malnutrition and hunger in Malawi ? – Photo Orina Dominic – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2046472282164105&set=pcb.3446711585373266&type=3&theater&ifg=1
You don’t want to grow your food crops on a bag ? Well, grow them in a tub ! – Photo Orina Dominic – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2046469432164390&set=pcb.3446711585373266&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Oh, sorry, you don’t have a tub ? Why don’t you use any other container that can hold some potting soil ? – Photo Orina Dominic – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2046469668831033&set=pcb.3446711585373266&type=3&theater&ifg=1

If 47 % of the Malawian children are malnourished. If so many Malawian families suffer from recurrent droughts or flooding. Why isn’t there a national aid programme to help the complete population to the necessary container gardening assets ? What would be the cost af distributing recycled bags or other containers to every family ?

Instead of ignoring that many hungry Malawian families have to look for wild tubers or to feed their stunted children every day with some corn porridge, one should better invest in the minimal costs of this phenomenal sustainable technique: CONTAINER GARDENING. That is the easiest way to chase hunger and poverty out of the country.

7.000 Meatballs from Malawi

From the first 3 gardens created, we have now reached 45 gardens in Malawi with more than 600 farmers who can cultivate together with their families fruits and vegetables, preserving their biodiversity, avoiding intensive crops, GMO seeds and chemical pesticides. 

There is still a lot to do: in addition to new vegetable gardens in the country, we now want to try to make the projects more sustainable so that the farmers/patients who work in the garden not only benefit from the harvest but also that this activity becomes a real job. We hope to create a virtuous economic circle with local restaurateurs and processors who support the slow food philosophy. 

Slow Food International
10 JUNE 2020 – https://www.slowfood.com/7-000-meatballs-from-malawi/

A fundraising campaign to support HIV-positive farmers in Malawi 

The Slow Food Convivium in Olgiate Olona, Italy, is organising a crowdfunding campaign for farmers in Malawi! This year the meatballs will be balls full of seeds to plant and there will be live concerts on the Facebook page of Villa restelli . You can support the initiative by donating through the crowdfunding page, here. 

The “7000 meatballs for Malawi” (“7000 polpette per il Malawi” in Italian) fundraising campaign was born in 2016 to support the project of gardens in Africa. The Dream program of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Malawi in collaboration with Slow Food International helps to support HIV-positive patients and families in poverty. 

Villa Restelli together with Efraim Community, Pachamama Community, Sichem Community, and Slow Food Valle Olona has created this original format: cooking meatballs as many as the amount of money you want to collect. 

All thought of as a beneficial dinner in the beautiful setting of the Villa Restelli garden, accompanied by good wine and live music. 

A pleasant, fresh, cheerful evening but with a very strong and meaningful purpose: to support Africa, its people and its biodiversity! 

The success of the early evening in 2016 was phenomenal and so every year more and more people couldn’t wait to participate in the “Meatballs for Malawi” event. 

We decided to raise the bar every year, trying to collect more and more donations to enlarge the project. From the first 3 gardens created, we have now reached 45 gardens in Malawi with more than 600 farmers who can cultivate together with their families fruits and vegetables, preserving their biodiversity, avoiding intensive crops, GMO seeds and chemical pesticides. 

The gardens are organic, they follow certain natural techniques of protection from pests and they produce many different vegetables, some deriving from forgotten ancient seeds, the result of research carried out by our Malawian farmers. 

In this way, the DREAM program can provide nutritional support to its patients. 

Slow Food also deals with the training of these farmers. 

The project has been very successful and many people are now trying to repeat our model, in a country where multinationals seed are the masters, where there is one of the highest consumption of chemical pesticides in the world and where unfortunately they still suffer hunger.  

There is still a lot to do: in addition to new vegetable gardens in the country, we now want to try to make the projects more sustainable so that the farmers/patients who work in the garden not only benefit from the harvest but also that this activity becomes a real job. We hope to create a virtuous economic circle with local restaurateurs and processors who support the slow food philosophy. 

Although in this particular pandemic situation from Sars-Cov2, we would like to try to raise € 7000 to continue supporting the HIV-positive farmers in Malawi, helping them to better organize their gardens by purchasing or creating materials. 

We want to promote the organization of new training courses and the creation of a network with local restaurateurs so that these gardens can, other than provide immediate sustenance for the farmers, become a real job. We hope that the project can give an opportunity for positive development for Malawi itself, becoming a virtuous example of a new way of doing agriculture in Africa. 

We would like to share with you also the words of two friends that are working in Malawi for this beautiful project: Kondwani Phiri, one of the local coordinators and Eluby Ganizani, one of the ladies farmers at Machinjiri “Seeds of Freedom” Garden in Malawi. 

What a choice in Malawi : money or life ? Cannabis vs. malnutrition and hunger !

Firms in Malawi awaits green light for cannabis agriculture

Source: Xinhua| 2020-06-11 18:06:05|Editor: huaxia

BLANTYRE, Malawi, June 11 (Xinhua) — Firms and individuals in Malawi are still waiting for the implementation of the Cannabis Regulation Act after the country passed a bill in February legalizing cannabis for medical and industrial use.

Ingrow Limited, a company that grows and processes industrial cannabis has expressed optimism that the crop can do well in Malawi, adding if the act will be implemented, Malawians growing it can benefit from the crop.

Ingrow Limited director, Nerbert Nyirenda told a local newspaper in the country that the act has to be gazetted and the responsible minister should gazette both the effective date of the Act and regulations to operationalize the act.

The passing of the bill brought a lot of debate from religious leaders and anti-smoking activists. Furthermore, it is believed that the majority could not differentiate the industrial hemp from the illegal Indian hemp.

Meanwhile, the government through the Ministry of Agriculture has said that the ministry is developing guidelines and regulations to facilitate the implementation of the new law.

For years, Malawi has been depending on tobacco as a main source of revenue and foreign currency in the country, however, due to the global anti-tobacco campaigns, the crop has been on the decline.

Economic experts have so far opted for the implementation of the Act citing that cannabis is economically viable because of its vast list of by-products in comparison with other commercial crops grown in Malawi. 

Mini-kitchen garden on a table : vegetables and herbs growing in yoghurt pots (lettuce, parsley, celery)

Photo Tine DAU (Belgium) – 2011-10-17 – potager-20110421-(2)

One of the effects of COVID-19 ? Container gardening is conquering the world.

Can you imagine a cheaper way to get fresh food crops all year long close to your home ? Food security in Malawi ? Child malnutrition in Malawi ? Forget it !

Photo Tine DAU (Belgium) – 2011-10-17 – potager-20110506-(4)

Offer a sufficient number of recycled containers to every family. Let them fill the containers with a mixture of local soil and animal manure or compost. Offer them a start collection of food crop seeds. Let them grow and eat those food crops. Ask them to save a number of plants of every species to get them flowering and seed setting. Let them collect the seeds for the following season.

That is a sustainable way to get rid of malnutrition and even hunger.

Over the Garden Gate: Eggplant makes a versatile garden addition

Ellwood City Ledger

By Ginny Majewski, Master Gardener -Posted Jun 8, 2020 – https://www.ellwoodcityledger.com/news/20200608/over-garden-gate-eggplant-makes-versatile-garden-addition/1

Eggplant, a member of the Nightshade family, offers great diversity of colors and tastes to support summer cuisine.

Many home gardeners look forward to planting tomatoes and peppers, whether in the ground, raised beds or containers on the patio.

These members of the Nightshade (Solanaceae) family offer great diversity of colors and tastes to support summer cuisine.

One often overlooked member of this family is eggplant (Solanum melongena), another warm-weather vegetable that produces in mid- to late summer and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Eggplant may also be grown in containers and in ornamental borders. What drew me to growing eggplant initially were the beautiful, small flowers and attractive fruits that give interest to both the veggie and flower garden. Of course, I also find that eggplant provides more diversity in the vegetable diet, and I was a consumer long before a grower.

Eggplant requires full sun; warm, well-drained, loamy soil; and a moderate amount of fertilizer to thrive. Starting seeds indoors at least eight to nine weeks before the last spring frost is necessary. However, most nurseries carry 6- to 8-week-old plants to transplant into your garden or container. Buy high-quality young plants, without blossoms, to ensure greater productivity.

In the garden, plant about 18 inches apart. If using a container, choose a dark color that will keep the soil warm. Stake plants, as you would tomatoes, at the time you put them in the soil and an inch or two from the plant. They will need support as they grow and produce fruits, which can become heavy.

Water thoroughly and add mulch to retain moisture and keep down weeds. Use a balanced fertilizer (5-10-10) twice during the growing season. Note that the first number in this fertilizer formula is nitrogen. Two much nitrogen will encourage foliage growth over flowers and fruit. Consistent watering is most important during fruit set and development.

Harvest eggplants when the skin is a uniform color and shiny. Try the poke test: If the skin does not bounce back with gentle pressure, it is ripe. But don’t wait too long to harvest or the seeds will become too big and the texture too tough.

We are used to seeing the standard, purple-black eggplant, but there are so many more varieties to try. They may be white, rose-pink, or green with stripes. Their shapes vary from long and thin to round or pear-shaped to finger sized. Try them all in your garden.

(Continued)

Growing learners : Ottawa kids grow their own veggies

1,040 Ottawa children whose schooling at home this spring has included the chance to learn how to grow their own vegetables. They’ve been delivered container gardening kits in a program that delivers both education and fresh produce as some families who will be struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic. So far 70 elementary classes are participating.

Students receive a box of fresh fruit and vegetables for their families and the means to grow their own: garden containers, soil, seeds, and instructions how to grow the plants.

The program focuses on schools in high-needs neighbourhoods, but all students in classrooms that participate can take part. “There are obvious connections to curriculum. But I think when students get their hands in the dirt, and they are actually growing plants and potentially growing their own food, they start to think about ‘Where does this come from? And how does it get to the point that it’s on my plate, and what role can I play?’

The school board pays half the $65,000 cost of the program.

School-at-home project lets Ottawa kids grow their own veggies

By Jacquie Miller

Ottawa Citizenhttps://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/plant-project

Thanks to COVID-19, Malak Mutter is discovering the joys and challenges of vegetable farming.

The 12-year-old is one of 1,040 Ottawa children whose schooling at home this spring has included the chance to learn how to grow their own vegetables.

They’ve been delivered container gardening kits in a program that delivers both education and fresh produce as some families who will be struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic.

The Growing Learners program is running at 20 schools in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

So far 70 elementary classes are participating. Students receive a box of fresh fruit and vegetables for their families and the means to grow their own: garden containers, soil, seeds, and instructions how to grow the plants.

The children are learning about horticulture, the food chain, cooking and, in Malak’s class, wildlife control.

The Grade 7 student at Featherston Drive Public School was determined to protect her fledgling crop of beans, zucchini, radish and lettuce from those darn squirrels.

Other students in her class have reported with dismay that squirrels were eating their seeds and sprouts.

Malak, on the advice of her dad, was prepared. She bought a screen at Dollarama and carefully placed it over her gardening containers that sit in a sunny spot in her backyard.

“I never had the squirrels,” she said proudly.

Malak consulted a booklet and a video provided as part of the program that explained how much soil and water are needed and how to plant the seeds. She used a ruler to carefully place the lettuce and radish seeds in a row, four centimetres apart, she said.

She waters her plants every day, and watches. “It makes me so excited every time it grows. Every day I see it!”

The beans and zucchini are only a few centimetres tall, but the lettuce and radishes are growing like crazy, said Malak. “It looks like clover. It’s really big!”

The squirrel problem was the subject Friday of the weekly video conference to discuss the gardening project with her classmates.

“We are all doing research on how to keep squirrels out,” said teacher Samantha Conley, who has two classes participating in the program.

The students also exchange ideas and tips using the online Google classroom platform.

“I planted most of my seeds yesterday and this is what they look like now,” wrote one student alongside a photo of dirt in a pot. “Can’t wait to see the progress and if they grow … Thanks for giving us this opportunity!”

Conley said she also fields a steady stream of emails from students with questions and updates.

Some children even send daily videos of the plants, she laughed. She’s learning with them, since teachers also receive the growing kit.

“It’s really brought us together in our little classroom community.”

Parents have contacted her to express their appreciation, said Conley. “They are so thankful this program exists.”

The program focuses on schools in high-needs neighbourhoods, but all students in classrooms that participate can take part.

The families all receive two boxes of fruits and vegetables. Some families have inquired about how they can donate to food banks or other charities, said Cameron Jones, a school board administrator who helped dream up the project.

Growing Learners meets several goals set out in the board’s strategic plan, including fostering innovative learning and creating a culture of caring, he said.

There are obvious connections to curriculum. But I think when students get their hands in the dirt, and they are actually growing plants and potentially growing their own food, they start to think about ‘Where does this come from? And how does it get to the point that it’s on my plate, and what role can I play?

“These are big questions that we ought to be asking all the time, and in the context of COVID and social distancing, it’s become a really powerful question in a way that wasn’t as obvious to folks before.”

The school board pays half the $65,000 cost of the program. The rest is covered by contributions from the Education Foundation of Ottawa charity and partners Just Food, Ottawa Farm School and Ottawa Good Food Box.

Malak said the vegetable project has been her favourite part of school at home. In-person classes have been cancelled since mid March because of the pandemic.

She likes language arts, and usually gets grades of 100 on her assignments, which she finds “really easy,” said Malak.

But the container garden is her passion as this strange school year drags to a close.

“I really, really love it. It makes me happy. Especially these days, with COVID … ”

All the schoolchildren in Malawi can grow spring onions in a container

Photo Prasad Weerasinghe PW – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157867608574652&set=pcb.3432957333415358&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Photo Prasad Weerasinghe PW – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157867608714652&set=pcb.3432957333415358&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Every child can plant some spring onions in a container and enjoy eating these juicy vegetables from time to time. It’s not complicated at all.

The day will come for Malawians to grow heaps of tomatoes in bags and sell them

Photo Christopher Burton – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10222067596029676&set=pcb.3433607533350338&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Christopher Burton – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10222067595669667&set=pcb.3433607533350338&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Photo Sarah Skeen – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1390244151161469&set=pcb.3435724933138598&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Gulzara Begum – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=304906573869283&set=pcb.3443117805732644&type=3&theater&ifg=1

No questions ? We agree, it’s so simple !

Anyone can grow potatoes in plastic bags

Photo Jennifer Hopkins – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10217374330771279&set=p.10217374330771279&type=3&theater

STEP 1 : Use white bags to get less heating. Roll the top edge of the bags down (as a collar).

STEP 2 : Fill the bags to a height of 15-20 cm with a moistened (not wet !) mixture of well-draining soil with a small quantity of animal manure or compost.

STEP 3 : Cut some seed potatoes in 4 pieces, so that each part has at least one “eye” (bud) – Preparing seed potatoes for planting. Photo by tanyss/Getty Images.https://www.almanac.com/plant/potatoes

STEP 4 : Let the pieces dry a day or 2 (to avoid rot) and then plant 4 potato parts per bag in the sandy soil at a distance of 20-30 cm and 7-8 cm deep, cut-side down and the “eye” upwards.

STEP 5 : Let the “eyes” grow into green (sprouts) shoots to a height of 20 cm.

STEP 6 : Bury the shoots by adding the same moistened mixture of soil in the bags (called earthing up or hilling), covering some 15 cm of green shoots and leaving only 5 cm of leafy shoots free (exposed).

STEP 7 : Let the leafy shoots (the main stem with leaves) continue their growth and repeat STEP 6. Meanwhile, underground, tubers form on secondary stems that branch off from the main stem.

STEP 8 : Roll up the upper edge of the bags around the green parts of the potatoes and continue filling the bag (3-4 times) with the moistened soil mixture until the bag is completely filled with soil.

STEP 9 : Let the green potato plants complete their growth until they flower and set fruits (potato berries).

STEP 10 : At the end of their development the potato plants turn brown and dry. This is the right time to harvest.

Review of the “Container Gardening Project in Malawi” (Willem Van Cotthem)

https://desertification.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/review-of-the-container-gardening-project-in-malawi-willem-van-cotthem/

LATEST NEWS FROM MALAWI (Patrick HARRY – March 14, 2012)

Nyassa Forest Garden to be installed

After almost five years of hard work for the Container Gardening Project in Malawi, the project is setting up new plans to introduce a forest garden in Lilongwe . Its proposed name will be Nyasa Forest Garden.  The forest is expected to provide fruits and vegetables to the rural poor .

700 fruits tree seedlings have been produced so far.

However, we really need support to enable us to purchase land for the project. The support can be in terms of small items donation or any small amount of money.

Thanks for your guidance.

The fruits of your teaching are ripening.

Kind regards,

Patrick.


THE MALAWI PROJECT

Malawian Patrick HARRY studied in Belgium in 2007.  Before his return home he discussed with Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (University of Ghent) the importance of the container gardening method for his country.  Convinced about the opportunities that container gardening would offer to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and to combat desertification in Malawi, Patrick immediately started experimenting growing vegetables in containers in his home village.  His initiative is gradually growing into a successful project, largely thanks to the support of many members of the open Facebook group, called “FRIENDS OF CONTAINER GARDENING PROJECT IN MALAWI”.

PATRICK’s  FIRST MESSAGE (JANUARY 2008)

http://desertification.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/good-news-from-malawi-p-dimusa-willem/

In January 2008 he reported :

“Hi Professor Willem,

I have managed to plant a lot of seeds and seedlings in bottles and the results are excellent. I am starting to cultivate my garden so that I may plant the melons seeds you gave me.

Now Malawi is receiving good rains and I have tried to plant hybrid maize on one and half acre of land. I am expecting good harvest this year.

I have also finalised the constitution for the association you recommended and I have already come up with a programme for the whole of this year. I will keep in touch with you.

Patrick“

———–

On his desertification blog, Prof. Willem VAN COTTHEM proudly replied :

Good to hear that Patrick booked his first success with container gardening, growing plants in plastic bottles (see former messages on my blog on container gardening
<www.containergardening.wordpress.org>

I really believe that this form of container gardening may offer a lot of additional opportunities to grow vegetables in the most difficult conditions of drought and desertification.

Malawi receiving good rains now, will hopefully be in a position to register good harvests.  However, container gardening should remain an excellent tool for providing complementary food.

May Patrick show the Malawians that his successes with container gardening in plastic bottles and plastic bags can easily be duplicated everywhere else, thus contributing to continuous actions to keep the country clean by eliminating all that plastic from nature.

===============================

PATRICK’s MESSAGE OF MAY 2008

I want to thank you for the container farming methods you taught me when I was in Belgium. A lot of my friends are now growing trees and vegetables in their homes in containers and plastic bags. I hope our country Malawi one day will be as clean as Belgium. I have plans to do this “King of Farming” at a large scale in the future. I managed to harvest 35 bags of maize and my family is now happy to have enough food. Next week I will be travelling to South Africa to do my practical part of journalism studies in Pretoria. But i will keep in touch with you.

Lots of best wishes,
Patrick”
.

======================================

PATRICK’s MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 2008

http://desertification.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/malawi-container-gardening-against-hunger-and-desertification-p-dimusa/

After I learned a lot about container gardening from Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem in Belgium, my life has changed for a better, because in otherwise useless plastic bottles and plastic bags I can now grow vegetables to produce food for my family, as well as beautify my home with beautiful flowers. At the same time, I am cleaning the environment around my house.

Now my fellow villagers in Piyasani village in the outskirts of Lilongwe city are flocking to my house to learn about this new initiative. In November this year, I started collecting tree seeds from the surrounding remaining forest. As the rain has started, I am planning to set up a community nursery for tree seedlings using the container gardening method. With this plan I hope to be able to donate these tree seedlings to a school, so that the children will be able to plant a school woodlot. At the same time, this will motivate schools to start the same initiative, as it is one of the cheapest methods for agriculture and reforestation for the poorest countries in Africa. No capital is needed, since you can do this project around your home.

I have a lot of photos on this project.  They will be sent to Professor Willem so that other people can learn something about the importance of container gardening through his blog.

Apart from container gardening, I am also doing vegetable farming at a small scale for sale and for feeding my family with nutritious meals.

However, I am looking for well-wishers and donors who can come forward and assist me in buying a piece of land which shall become an Education Centre for container gardening in Malawi. Anyone who is interested can either e-mail me at patdimusa@yahoo.co.uk or call me at +2659028290.

May God bless Professor Willem Van Cotthem for introducing this kind of initiative to the people of Africa.

Patrick Harry DIMUSA – Piyasani Village, Malawi.”

====================================

PATRICK’s MESSAGE OF JUNE 2009

http://desertification.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/the-future-of-malawi-patrick-harry/

Piyasani village is one of the rural area villages which is located to the west of Lilongwe city. The village is the home of the founder of the organization  Patrick HARRY, where he is currently staying.  Malawi is a poor country with most of its people surviving on one dollar per day and this is why the project started to empower the community to take part in this simple and cheap project.

Piyasani village is the headquarter of the organization. Its container gardening project encourages the growing of vegetables and the raising of tree seedlings.  It is one of the first projects to help in both nutrition and reforestation in Malawi .

BACKGROUND

The project helps to clean up the environment from all trash and dirt, because every useless paper or bottles or containers shall be used to grow plants. This project is ensuring that the people avoid sanitation problems and as a result diseases like cholera are prevented.  The container gardening project is sensitizing children, because they are the future leaders of tomorrow.

The Future of Malawi is a non-seeking-profit organization (nspo), which was founded in December 2007 in Belgium by Patrick HARRY. He is a Malawian by nationality. He was motivated by Professor Willem VAN COTTHEM, who is doing a similar project in Algeria and aiming at realizing similar projects in other parts of the world.

This container gardening project is a blessing to this country, which is experiencing serious deforestation and poor nutrition, especially among children under the age of five. The project is suiting Malawi because it can be started even with zero capital, as most resources to be used can be found locally for free or costing almost nothing.

Malawi is loosing its vegetation cover every year at a faster rate than the trees being planted annually and this is why this organization is targeting raising tree seedlings to make sure that all deforested areas get back  their former glory.

As death rate of children is so high, due to malnutrition, this project encourages growing of vegetables, in order to make sure that the future generation will be healthier. As most people depend on maize as a staple food, this project encourages growing other crops, which can be added to the staple food list, like rice, cassava, vegetables and even fruits for vitamins.

There are several organizations which are in the forefront of helping to save the remaining natural heritage in Malawi, but none of them is encouraging the cheap way of raising tree seedlings like the Future of Malawi is doing. So this organization is the first one to take up the challenges of both nutrition and deforestation.

The organization is proud to be assisted by international members to set this project on the map and help it to achieve its goals.

PROJECT SITE
The project is located in Piyasani village in traditional authority Njewa to the west of Lilongwe city, which is experiencing serious littering problems. It is the best site for the project, because every otherwise useless bottle or plastic bag or container can be used by the project. This is one way of ensuring that the environment of Lilongwe is as clean as possible. The other target of the project is to help make Lilongwe one of the cleanest cities in Malawi.

PROJECT GOAL
To bring back the environment of Malawi to its former glory. This shall be achieved through the container gardening project.

OBJECTIVES
• To help to combat hunger in Malawi
• To help in poverty alleviation
• To effectively assist in combating desertification.

PROJECT ACTIVITIES
• Offering environment education to the people of Malawi
• Training essions
• Project monitoring and evaluation
• Management of the project and several other services
• Fundraising activities

PRIORITY ISSUES
The priority issues to be addressed by the project are related to: awareness, environmental conservation, education, poverty alleviation, container gardening education centre establishment, reforestation, and establishing partnership with international organizations to help to bring volunteers for the project implementation activities and also fundraising activities through donations or organization of local fundraising activities.

OTHER AREAS
• agriculture
• awareness
• health
• indigenous knowledge
• land purchasing

THE CURRENT FUNDRAISING ACTIVITY
Currently the founder of the organization Patrick Harry has set up a Computer school as one way of fundraising the organization. The Computer school is located in Piyasani village, where the organization office is located. It is the cheapest school of all to make sure that even poor people in the village, who can’t afford to go to college have access to learn the new technology. The school is offering courses in all packages. All the money to be raised is for the enhancement of the Container gardening project in Malawi. Meanwhile the organization is requesting well–wishers to support the organization in anyway, whether materially or financially.

EXPECTED RESULTS
• Increased planting of trees annually to minimize deforestation
• Poverty alleviation through money raised from sales of container gardening plants.
• To have bumper yields in crops and vegetables to help check hunger.
• Encourage communities to take Container gardening as business.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Patrick Harry is the manager of the project with assistance from the general secretary and the treasurer.

International members (partners) and local members will take part in the success of the project through advice, financial help or material assistance.

A member or partner can choose to work with THE FUTURE OF MALAWI (FOM) either as a member, a volunteer or a friend of FOM. Any contribution to the organization is welcome.  Every donation made to the organization, whether material of financial shall be used  for the intended purpose and transaction shall be recorded for future reference. Auditors will be allowed to conduct their audit every year and an annual financial report shall be submitted to all targeted individual and organization, whether local or international.

A village committee shall be established to make sure that the community fully takes part in the project.

STORIES OF CONTAINER GARDENING PROJECT IN PHOTOS-MALAWI
By Patrick Harry.

The project is involved in trying to reduce deforestation in the country by planting tree seeds in otherwise useless containers. After the tree seedlings reach a considerable height they are transplanted at the project site, while others are donated to various schools around Lilongwe city.

Apart from raising tree seedling, also various vegetables are being planted in otherwise useless containers and plastic bags as one way of checking the problem of hunger. Some vegetables are also being sold to villages to teach them that they can reduce poverty using this kind of initiative.

The organization is planning to build an education centre, which will also act as a demonstration centre for the project.

Education of children in container gardening was identified as the best way of spreading this kind of initiative, because children are taken as the future leaders of tomorrow.

When the founder of the organization was in Belgium for a three months international study programme, he had a meeting with Professor Willem VAN COTTHEM who introduced him to the container gardening initiative. In his speech, the professor said “Imagine that a school has one thousand children and every child grows only one tree in a plastic bottle during the school year.  How many trees could be planted every year in Africa ?”.

It was through this encouragement that The Future of Malawi (FOM) decided to give priority to sensitize the people of Malawi about the importance of container gardening.

As the country is facing a lot of problems like g-food shortages, poverty and desertification, this is the time to wake up the people and help them rescuing the country through a very interesting initiative called ‘Container gardening’. Everywhere in the country people can use free useless bottles and useless plastic bags to plant tree seeds, seeds of vegetables or other plants.

In order to prove to the village that Container Gardening can work, the project started planting flowers in containers and plastic bags as one way of beautifying the project site.

Now the Future of Malawi project site has been nicknamed by various villagers as ‘THE FOUR SEASONS CENTRE’ . “Four seasons” is one of the famous flower production companies in Malawi and their campus is really beautified with flowers. So, how comes that villagers compare the FOM project site with such a big institution?

Some villagers are copying the initiative and some of them are now planting flowers in their homes.

For more information please contact:

Patrick Harry,                        OR                        c/o Mr Elius Harry,
Piyasani village,                                                         British high commission,
T/A Njewa,                                                                 P.O.BOX 30042
Lilongwe.                                                                    Lilongwe 3,
Malawi( central Africa)                                            Malawi ( Central Africa).
Cellphone: +265999071966.

E-Mail : ptrckharry@yahoo.co.uk  /   patdimusa@yahoo.co.uk

‘HELP US TO COMBAT HUNGER , POVERTY AND DEFORESTATION IN MALAWI’

=======================

MESSAGE OF WILLEM VAN COTTHEM (OCTOBER 2009)

http://desertification.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/container-gardening-to-create-food-security-p-h-dimusa-malawi/

Today I received a short report from Patrick Harry DIMUSA on his first efforts to launch container gardening in his home country Malawi.  Patrick studied in Ghent (Belgium) in 2007.  Before returning to his country he visited me to get some advice on technologies and methods to improve plant production in Malawi.

We discussed the advantages of :

1. Soil improvement by applying a water- and fertilizer absorbing soil conditioner.
2. Participation in our Seeds for Food project.
3. Container gardening to produce vegetables and other food crops in bottles, plastic bags, pots, etc.

Once back home, Patrick started a small-scale container gardening project in his own village, also using the seeds he received in Belgium (donated by many people of Western Europe).

Here is his first report on the results of his magnificent initiative :

“Dear Professor Willem,

First I would like to thank you for introducing me to “container gardening”.  To say frankly, the initiative impressed me and after my arrival back home, I formed an NGO by the name of “Future of Malawi (FOM)”.  The objectives of that organisation are to contribute in the fight against hunger, desertification and poverty in Malawi.

I remember well your advice that it is better to target children in this project, because they are the future leaders of tomorrow.  That is why FOM is working with children on most of its activities.  Most of the container gardening sensitization is done in the schools surrounding my village, which is the central location of my project.

Ever since I started this action I never received any funding.  Most of the money for the organization of activities comes from my pocket.  I did it because I believe in hard work and in the fact that everything that starts small can become big.

Currently, I am planning to buy some land to construct an “education centre” or a “demonstration centre” for the project.  To my site I take container gardening as the only possible rescue for poor countries like Malawi, because it can be started on a low budget.  Moreover, it helps to keep the environment clean by collecting useless plastic bottles and plastic bags, which are massively polluting nature.  Growing seedlings of trees contributes to the reforestation of our country.

As the founder of this project I am facing a lot of challenges to keep it going forward, due to financial constraints.  Therefore, let me take this opportunity to ask all well-wishers to support me.

Please show my pictures to the visitors of your website.

May God bless you and your wife.

With lots of love,

Patrick Harry DIMUSA

c/o Martha Harry
Theatre for Change
British Council
P.O. Box 30222
LILONGWE 3 – Malawi

===================================

PATRICK’s MESSAGE OF FEBRUARY 2010

http://desertification.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/malawi-container-gardening-project-progressing-p-harry/

Dear Professor,

I am writing to report about the progress of our Container Gardening Project in Malawi, in particular that in Nkhotakota where a project site has been identified. Throughout the month of January 2010 I have been busy conducting a baseline survey with 3 volunteers to find out the extent of hunger, poverty and desertification (deforestation) in Nkhotakota district, plus the main cities of Malawi: Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu. The summary report of these findings will be sent to you soon.

Meanwhile, I would like to request you to post the seeds for the Nkhotakota to my sister’s address:

Martha Harry, C/O Theatre for Change,

British Council,

P.O. Box 30222,

Lilongwe 3,

Malawi

All people interested in supporting our project are invited to send their seeds of tropical vegetables and fruits to the same address.

Let me also tell you that TST-members from The Netherlands contacted me for partnership to assist them when starting container gardening in Blantyre at their two orphanage centres.

May God bless you.

PATRICK HARRY

Coordinator of the “Future of Malawi (FOM)” project.

====================================

PATRICK’s MESSAGE OF MARCH 2010

http://desertification.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/container-gardening-against-hunger-and-desertification-in-malawi-p-harry/

THE EXTENT OF HUNGER, POVERTY AND DESERTIFICATION IN MALAWI

INTRODUCTION

Agriculture is the most important sector of the Malawi’s economy as it employs about 80% of the workforce and contributes over 80% of foreign exchange earnings. However, over the past recent years, the sector has been constantly shrinking due to the high poverty level among the poor rural farmers, hunger and poor rains due to serious deforestation in many  parts of the country.

HUNGER

Worldwide 800 million people go to bed hungry every night the majority of them in rural areas (Source : Reaching the Rural poor- pg 1, James D.Wolfensehn).

In Malawi this year, rain has been a problem with several areas receiving little or no rain. Some of the areas with a dry spell include district of Chikwawa and  Nsanje. In Nsanje, 4625  hectares have been affected,while 27648 hectares have been affected in Chikwawa. Other areas, like Lilongwe district, also suffered the same problem due to shortage of rain for some weeks, which has resulted in poor maize production in many fields despite the heavy rain still falling presently.

DEFORESTATION/ DESERTIFICATION

50,000 to 70,000 hectares of forest are being destroyed every year according to the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Report( WESM).  This year, Mzuzu city was seriously destroyed by hailstorm due to the lack of a tree cover acting as a windbreak in the city.

Many people in both urban and rural areas are still destroying trees for charcoal, fuel wood  and timber despite the government warning on all  illegal destruction of the forest through the Ministry of Forestry .

POVERTY

Most people in Malawi live below the poverty line of earning 1 dollar per day according to the UN data. Poverty is really serious in Malawi for the following reasons:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Poor harvest due to drought, shortage of land due to overpopulation and poor farming practices
  • Hunger
  • Disease
  • High death rate due to HIV/AIDS

RESEARCH FINDINGS AND CONCLUSSION

The findings from the survey have proved that the ‘container gardening initiative’ shall help to combat the problems of hunger, poverty and desertification in Malawi due to the following backing points:

  • Shortage of cultivation land shall be solved through container gardening which does not need a lot of space.
  • It  is a source of food in terms of production of vegetables and fruit tree seedlings.
  • This kind of gardening is very cheap for the poor population which is struggling to survive due to extreme poverty.
  • The project will help to clean cities, urban centres and villages.
  • There will be wealth creation among the rural poor from the sales of vegetables and tree seedlings.
  • Desertification shall be reduced due to an annual reforestation program which shall be launched in schools throughout the country.
  • Container gardening education among children shall help the future generation to be free from hunger, poverty and desertification.
  • Production is high in container gardening as one can harvest a lot per square metre of  the arranged garden

Therefore, container gardening is the best initiative to help combat hunger, poverty and desertification in Malawi  .

====================================

PATRICK’s MESSAGE OF JULY 2010

http://desertification.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/desertification-container-gardening-and-crafts-work-in-malawi-patrick-harry/

“Dear Professor Willem,

Malawi with a high percentage of poor people is very rich in natural resources, which the people are now realizing. In the photo below you will see some of the items (door mats) which are being made to finance my container gardening project in Nkhotakota.

It is from this small capital that we will be able to support new initiatives like our container gardening project.

It is my way to help the helpless in my village.

Patrick Harry (June 2, 2010)

————

Message to Heather MORRISON (Toronto, Canada – donor of seeds)

Dear Heather,

I’m writing to thank you for the seeds of Melons and Papaya which you have kindly donated to the Container Gardening project in Malawi. Let me assure you that the seed donation will benefit the project in terms of Melons production and production of Papaya tree seedlings which shall be given to the communities to grow fresh fruits.

Any future donation of you or other donors will be greatly appreciated.

May God bless you.

Patrick Harry.

==============================================

Family container gardening in Malawi

by The European Alliance on Agricultural knowledge for Development (EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS WORKING TOGETHER FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION FOR DEVELOPMENT)

Patrick Harry starting his private container gardening project

by secretary | May 1, 2020 | Paepard | – https://agrinatura-eu.eu/2020/05/family-container-gardening-in-malawi/

This is a project in the region of Rumphi-Livingstonia (N.Malawi) in order to improve the living standards of the local population. It is focusing on school and family container gardening (the growing of vegetables, herbs and fruit trees in containers). Moreover, special attention is given to a boys and girls school sports programme.

Three friends, namely the Honorary Professors Wim Van Cotthem and Donald Gabriels and the civil engineer Dino Galbusera form a strong basic team for the promotion and coordination of this Malawi-Chitukuko project.

One of the main goals of this project, is teaching the school children of ALL the schools in the project area between Rumphi and Livingstonia on how to produce fresh food in different types of containers (bottles, buckets, crates, bags, sacks, tins, cans, drums, etc.).

Once the youngsters have learned at school (e.g. in their school garden) how to grow their own vegetables and herbs, they will inform their family about these opportunities and, later on, becoming adults themselves, they will apply these techniques when producing food for their own family.

Due to a lack of variation in agriculture (mainly maize),
there is little food security. If corn cultivation fails,
a hunger period follows.

Important quantities of fresh food can be produced with this container gardening method. All the school children, their teachers and consultants can become ambassadors of a radical change in the situation of the food crisis in Malawi.

Eating maize porridge as the main daily food has to be supplemented with vitamin rich and mineral rich vegetables and herbs to get a balanced nutrition. These fresh food products should not be grown outside the homes in the field, but close to the house, close to the kitchen, in all sorts of containers, if needed placed on risers.

Agriculture, food security, and nutrition in Malawi: Leveraging the links

Some Malawian diets are lacking in terms of quantity (total calories consumed), and most are lacking in terms of quality (sufficient calories derived from nutrient-dense foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, fruits, and vegetables).

Good nutrition requires both enough total calories (quantity) and enough vitamins and minerals per calorie (quality).

IFPRI : International Food Policy Research Institute

by NOORA-LISA ABERMAN, JANICE MEERMAN, TODD BENSON

FOOD POLICY REPORT2018 – PAGES:82

Although the Malawian food supply is shaped largely by trends in smallholder food crop production, Ma­lawi’s decades-long focus on improving smallholder productivity has only moderately improved food secu­rity and nutrition outcomes.

Country statistics indicate an estimated 36.7 percent of rural Malawian house­holds failed to access sufficient calories between 2010 and 2011. During the same period, 47 percent of children under the age of five years were esti­mated to be stunted in their growth.

These indicators imply that some Malawian diets are lacking in terms of quantity (total calories consumed), and most are lacking in terms of quality (sufficient calories derived from nutrient-dense foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, fruits, and vegetables).

Good nutrition requires both enough total calories (quantity) and enough vitamins and minerals per calorie (quality). How can Malawi better leverage its smallholder agriculture sector to improve nutrition? This report provides a series of primary and secondary data anal­yses that examine different aspects of this question.

Malawi Food Security Outlook Update, April 2020

Most households across the country are now consuming own-produced food, with harvests expected to peak between April and May.

However, some households in localized southern areas received poor harvests due to dry spells, while localized areas of the northern Karonga and Rumphi districts experienced crop losses due to flooding and waterlogging.

Overall normal to above-normal seasonal rainfall has led to above-average crop production prospects at the national level.

Source FEWS NET

 Posted 1 May 2020 – Originally published 30 Apr 2020

Key Messages

  • Most households across the country are now consuming own-produced food, with harvests expected to peak between April and May. Households who were facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the previous consumption year (ending March 2020) are now transitioning to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) as they access food from own production and income from crop sales. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist through at least September 2020 across most of the country. However, some households in localized southern areas received poor harvests due to dry spells, while localized areas of the northern Karonga and Rumphi districts experienced crop losses due to flooding and waterlogging. An increasing number of these households are likely to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes as food stocks are depleted between July and September, with area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected in Nsanje and Chikwawa by September.
  • Overall normal to above-normal seasonal rainfall has led to above-average crop production prospects at the national level. According to the preliminary crop estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi is expected to produce 3,691,866 metric tons of maize for the 2020/21 consumption year. This is about 25 percent higher than the five-year average and 9 percent higher than the previous year. Production of rice, millet, and pulses is expected to be between 8 to 11 percent above last year.
  • Prices for the maize staple decreased significantly between February and March in most monitored markets, though prices remained significantly higher than both the five-year average and last year’s prices. According to data from both the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and FEWS NET, maize prices in the southern Balaka and Nsanje markets decreased by 28 and 41 percent respectively between February and March.

Malawi facing worst food crisis in decade, requires $81 million in relief aid – UN agency

More than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months in the worst food crisis in a decade in Malawi. People in some affected districts have already started selling their livestock to make ends meet. Women are also engaging in more firewood and charcoal selling, which degrades the environment and further aggravates the fragile climate.

Some crops managed to withstand the floods only to succumb to intense dry spells in the following months, making survival even more difficult for the most vulnerable.

WFP also said a swift response is imperative to save children’s lives and prevent worsening undernutrition, particularly stunting among children, which limits cognitive development, and has far-reaching effects on health and productivity over a lifetime. 

People gather at Mikolongo school in Chikwawa district, Malawi, to receive rations of maize, pulses, oil and fortified corn soya blend from WFP to prevent malnutrition. Photo: WFP/Dannie Phiri

https://www.un.org/africarenewal/news/malawi-facing-worst-food-crisis-decade-requires-81-million-relief-aid-%E2%80%93-un-agency

More than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months in the worst food crisis in a decade in Malawi, where a staggering four out of every 10 children suffer from stunting, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

People in some affected districts have already started selling their livestock to make ends meet,” WFP said in a press release. “Women are also engaging in more firewood and charcoal selling, which degrades the environment and further aggravates the fragile climate.

“The agency said more than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months following severe floods and drought that ruined this year’s harvest. 

“ “The floods early this year were the worst in living memory in Malawi, washing away homes and food stocks, and ruining fertile land,” it said. “Some crops managed to withstand the floods only to succumb to intense dry spells in the following months, making survival even more difficult for the most vulnerable.” 

“Since the end of last year, WFP has provided relief assistance to avert hunger in households hit by poor rainfall during the 2013/14 growing season and the floods in early 2015. This operation has reached more than one million vulnerable people. 

“WFP, which is financed entirely by voluntary contributions from governments, companies and private individuals, is less than 25 per cent funded for the $81 million relief operation that lies ahead. 

“Additional contributions are urgently needed,” says WFP Representative for Malawi Coco Ushiyama. 

WFP also said a swift response is imperative to save children’s lives and prevent worsening undernutrition, particularly stunting among children, which limits cognitive development, and has far-reaching effects on health and productivity over a lifetime. 

“A recent Cost of Hunger in Africa report for Malawi estimated that stunting, which at 42 percent is among the highest in the region, costs the nation nearly $600 million annually,” the agency said. 

“The WFP announcement comes a day after an appeal to the international humanitarian community made by the President of Malawi Peter Mutharika at the launch of the National Food Insecurity Response Plan on Monday.

Illegal imports choke local poultry industry

illegal importation of table eggs, animal feeds and frozen chicken has led to the closure of farms, depletion of flocks and loss of of 3 000 jobs out of 24 000. This has been worsened by higher prices of maize, which is one of the main ingredients of feed for the industry.

Continuous illegal importation of table eggs and poultry feeds from Zambia and the continued importation of frozen chicken from Brazil by leading supermarket chains.

The Nation Online
by Grace Phiri
  June 4, 2020
 in Business Newshttps://www.mwnation.com/illegal-imports-choke-local-poultry-industry/

The Poultry Industry Association of Malawi (Piam) has decried illegal importation of poultry products which it argues has put the industry under financial strain and has affected about 12.5 percent of jobs.

In a statement, Piam chairperson Alexander Stewart said illegal importation of table eggs, animal feeds and frozen chicken has led to the closure of farms, depletion of flocks and loss of of 3 000 jobs out of 24 000.

He said this has been worsened by higher prices of maize, which is one of the main ingredients of feed for the industry.

Said Stewart: “The industry is extremely concerned with continuous illegal importation of table eggs and poultry feeds from Zambia and the continued importation of frozen chicken from Brazil by leading supermarket chains.

“This illegal importation is contrary to existing restriction orders currently in effect in Malawi.

“The poultry industry supports other local industries, including but not limited to packaging and transport. Our industry lifts a huge burden on foreign exchange and in recent years, began exporting into the region.”

He said the collapse of the poultry industry would affect demand for oil cake, resulting in oil imports. This would also destroy the farmer base that has diversified into oil seeds like soya and sunflower.”

The development comes seven years after the association also asked government to intervene and stop any importation of poultry products, arguing that the system has potential to put local producers out of business.

It also comes at a time Malawi Milk Producers Association has also been seeking government’s intervention on the imported milk products which affect the local industry.

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha earlier said protecting local industries is key since Malawi is signatory to other trade agreement sin the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for East and Central Africa

However, Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said they plan to review the country’s bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements to ascertain whether they are beneficial or not.

Currently, Malawi is a signatory and beneficiary of several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.

Since independence in 1964, the country has been signing trade agreements with other countries at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels to provide increased market access to boost exports.

Malawi’s trade partners are mostly exporting more to Malawi than what Malawi exports, a situation which widens the trade gap or the gap between imports and exports.

New Zealand : College raises funds to help create sustainable living in Malawi

Floods have changed where and how crops are grown and with agriculture and farming being a main source of income and food in Malawi “it’s pretty much ruined the whole area”. World Vision is trying to help create a more sustainable way of living and ways of growing crops that won’t be affected by climate change.

Paraparaumu College World Vision student leaders Cassie Tauro and Abi Bertham with students helping run the 40hr Famine. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Rosalie Willis

By: Rosalie Willis – Rosalie is a reporter for Kāpiti News

Over the weekend students from around the country will be taking part in the World Vision 40 Hour Famine.

They will give up something for 40 hours, fighting for children and their communities in Malawi, a landlocked country of about 18 million in southeastern Africa.

Paraparaumu College student leaders Cassie Tauro and Abi Bertham are determined not to let coronavirus stop them helping others.

“The whole coronavirus situation has changed the way we have gone about things this year,” Cassie said.

“It’s made it hard for organisations that require fundraising to help other people.”

Abi added: “We are worried about World Vision and how much money we are going to be able to raise for them because we want to help the people in Malawi as best we can.”

40 Hour Famine funds are due back to the charity at the end of term two, but the students are keen to continue raising funds throughout term three.
Droughts, cyclones, flooding and other extreme weather-related destruction have displaced many people in Malawi from their homes.

Floods have changed where and how crops are grown and with agriculture and farming being a main source of income and food in Malawi “it’s pretty much ruined the whole area”, said Cassie.

Abi said World Vision is trying to help create a more sustainable way of living and ways of growing crops that won’t be affected by climate change. Some of the money will also go towards learning spaces for youth children.
“It’s not just about poverty and refugees, like it has been in the past, but about feeding into the whole community and economic situation.”

=======================

To create a more sustainable way of living and ways of growing crops that won’t be affected by climate change ?

Isn’t that precisely “applying container gardening” by every Malawian family and in every Malawian school ?

Let us call it a COVID-home garden

Photo Shawn Watts-English : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10213045707095702&set=gm.3429549657089459&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Anyone can build a “container garden box“, fill it with a mixture of local soil, a bit of animal manure or compost and some wood chips or sawdust, and plant a mixture of vegetables and herbs.

It is so nice to be able to grow fresh food at home during a COVID-lockdown.

Wherever you live, you can build your own COVID-home garden. And why not building some COVID-school gardens for the youngsters ?

Stuck in coronavirus isolation? Grow a container vegetable garden

It involved planting seedlings in 15-gallon bags that are porous enough to drain water but strong enough to be filled with rich potting soil. You don’t need store-bought gardening bags to make a container garden. Any big containers will do.

With almost no money or land, Kosarin has still been able to create a bountiful harvest. It helps you to relax knowing that if other sources of foods fail, we can still manage

https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/life/entertainment/story/2020/jun/03/container-veggies/524498/

June 3rd, 2020 | by Mark Kennedy

Staff photo by Mark Kennedy / Apison grandmother Dianne Kosarin shows off her vegetable container garden.

Dianne Kosarin is not one to twiddle her green thumbs.

The Apison, Tennessee, grandmother has been busy this spring growing vegetables outdoors in containers. In time, she will harvest potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, kale, squash, cabbage, beans, snap peas, and more. There will be three varieties of tomatoes and enough herbs and peppers to spice up any dish.

“It’s small but so rewarding,” she said of her little hillside container garden, “especially when you are homebound.”

Kosarin said it’s comforting to know there are homegrown vegetables in the pantry in this time of coronavirus isolation.

“It’s important to feel self-sufficient,” she said.

Years ago, when her now-adult children were young, Kosarin said she cultivated lush, raised gardens with elaborate irrigation systems at her home in coastal South Carolina. Her late husband, Oscar Kosarin, was a former Broadway conductor and College of Charleston music teacher.

Now widowed, Dianne lives in a small house in rural Hamilton County with her friend and landlord, Tonda Snoey. The house is on a hillside behind a grove of trees and the topsoil is shallow and clay-like — so, not good for planting — Kosarin said.

Earlier this spring, though, Kosarin was surfing the internet when she came across a gardening system that was new to her. It involved planting seedlings in 15-gallon bags that are porous enough to drain water but strong enough to be filled with rich potting soil.

A survivor of kidney and lung cancer, Kosarin was intrigued by the gardening bags, which can be used to grow vegetables anywhere there is enough warmth and sunlight. She ordered a supply of the bags and resolved to use her well-honed gardening skills to plant a patch of vegetables.

When the bags arrived, she rented a truck and visited a local nursery to buy mushroom compost to fill her containers. She also got free mulch from chipped trees downed during the Easter tornadoes in Hamilton County. Re-purposing the storm mulch for her garden seemed like a fitting circle of life.

Throughout the damp, cool spring of 2020, Kosarin planted seeds in cups on the deck of the house where she lives and built a terraced foundation for the gardening containers out of mulch. She also discovered that she could move the bags around to optimize sun exposure.

Then, things began to happen. First came an explosion of lettuce. The herbs, positioned in containers from Walmart, began to emerge. Cucumbers and squash are now taking shape, and the first vine-ripened tomatoes just this week began to blush.

Kosarin said that you don’t need store-bought gardening bags to make a container garden. Any big containers will do.

She stressed the importance of daily watering, a joyful task that can almost feel like meditation. Evening watering is best for the vegetables, she said.

Her container-garden operation can be summed up in a word: efficient. With almost no money or land, Kosarin has still been able to create a bountiful harvest.

It helps you to relax knowing that if other sources of foods fail, we can still manage,” she said. “I’m thrilled and amazed at how well it [the garden] is doing.”

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

some text
Staff photo by Mark Kennedy / Small cucumbers are starting to grow in Dianne Kosarin’s vegetable garden.

Grow Your Own Food: Urban Farming flourishes in COVID-19 outbreak

https://dyipni.ca/grow-your-own-food.php?fbclid=IwAR2S4c0lAB45Ufo-gFiSbTmh2IMYKDi1QKP-wAf3BgtfJF-meGeeJ35SV_A

By: Karen Jane Salutan

The Pandemic COVID-19 has turned the world upside-down. Before the lockdown started to happen, a lot of people went to the market to buy essentials such as food, medicine, alcohol, sanitizers and other basic supplies. A lot of people also hoard tissue rolls. Some people posted memes and videos who are just panicking but no buying because they have no money.

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COVID-19 literally stopped us from being busy because of the increasing rate of infection and deaths all over the world. We cannot go out because of the lockdown. This pandemic became an opportunity for urban dwellers to start growing their own food because they have lots of time to plant vegetables and fruits and this amazing activity will keep us from being insane and bored because of the pandemic. We realize that agriculture and farmers are so important for our survival. If you have watched the movie Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, you will learn the importance of loving and protecting the environment. “All the magic of creation exists within a single tiny seed” said by the mysterious fairy of Fern Gully.

In Metro Manila, a lot of people do not know how to grow their own food. The less fortunate people are just relying from the relief goods and cash aids from the government and some generous institutions. Some people rallied in Quezon City amidst the threat of the deadly virus because of hunger. They cannot buy anything because they cannot work. In the rural provinces where there is abundance of food, the people here are not afraid of hunger. They are sustainable. Some places in the Cordillera Region did not accept the relief goods and cash aids from the government because they are already sustainable. They have all the food that they need because they are farmers.

Even we are living in the city, we can still grow our own food through Urban Container Gardening. We can grow easy to cultivate vegetables in our front yard and back yard. We may use plastic bottles and containers. The Department of Agriculture distributes free seeds to help the urban areas to be food sufficient. We can learn how to di this method by watching videos on Youtube and joining FB groups about urban gardening. Growing your own food will also help you to be healthy by eating natural organic food free of plastic packaging. You will also see the wonders of nature every time you wake up and see every growing stage of your vegetables. It’s an amazing experience and happiness. You will save money and the environment too. You just need to be patient in taking care of your plants and all of your efforts are rewarded. You may use scrap veggies and fruits as a natural fertilizer for you plants. You may also try to follow Robert Greenfield who is an American Food and Environment activist. He grows his own food right in his backyard and other people’s land. He also forages his food, he does not need to go to the grocery store for his food and medicine because everything he needs are found in what he has planted. His tissue paper are just soft leaves. With his lifestyle, he saves the environment by not consuming any plastic products and by growing his own food.

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“We need to explore all strategies to ensure that food productivity, availability and sufficiency is attained, particularly in this challenging time,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar, who has been advocating the importance of urban agriculture even before the COVID-19 episode in the country.

“With the program, we hope to provide households, especially in metropolitan areas, the opportunity to produce fresh and healthy food from their backyard for their tables. This way, we can help them attain food security even beyond the enhanced community quarantine period in Luzon,” the DA chief added.

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Tips on how to grow your own produce at home

There’s never been a better time to discover your green fingers and have a go at growing your own fruit and vegetables

Living Edge Magazine Logo

 01 June 2020 – by Ellie Fellshttps://www.livingedge.co.uk/food-drink/how-to-grow-your-own-food-at-home-1-6677069

All the family can get involved with growing produce at home

In recent weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many of us have a lot more free time on our hands. Whether you have a dedicated outdoor space, a balcony or just some window boxes or hanging baskets, a bit of gardening is a great way to get some much-needed head space and relaxation. However, with the weekly shop often involving long queues and with fresh fruit and vegetables in such high demand, now is the perfect time to try your hand at growing your own produce in the garden too.

Your first task will be to find a suitable location for your vegetable patch. As Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the RHS, explains, you don’t necessarily need acres and acres of space to get started. ‘A plot of just 1x1m would still produce a good amount of vegetables,’ he insists. If that’s not possible consider putting in place some raised beds, or you could get resourceful and utilise buckets, big plant pots, empty wheelbarrows, and even an old kitchen sink! The key thing is that your vegetable patch has access to plenty of sunlight and that it’s slightly sheltered from the wind, and be sure to remove all weeds before starting planting.

Next, you’ll need to choose what produce you are going to be growing, which is probably going to be the hardest task of all since there are so many options out there. However, gardening expert Sarah Raven, who has been running cooking, flower arranging, gardening and growing courses since 1999, has plenty of advice. ‘The things I’d go for, for a quick and economical veg patch, are edible plants with a high cm-square productivity – so you get the maximum crop out of the minimum garden bed or container space,’ she suggests. ‘Select mainly cut-and-come-again crops, things that you can sow and harvest within 4-6 weeks, and then go back to harvest again and again.’

Sarah recommends planting vegetable varieties like salads, herbs and super-prolific leafy greens, such as spinach ‘Medania’ or ‘Toscane’, as well as any type of kale. ‘Add Swiss chard in there too, in any of its forms (the white or green-stemmed taste cleaner than the earthier ‘Rainbow’ or ‘Bright Lights’ chard). These will give you more meals per square metre than any other plant you can grow and are super versatile,’ Sarah says. She also recommends courgettes, tomatoes, beans and peas and rhubarb. Guy has a similar list of crops to try growing: he suggests planting lettuces, leafy greens like chard or perpetual spinach, tomatoes in pots, new potatoes and squash. Bear in mind factors such as growing time and how much space each crop will take up, and remember to rotate the crops each year too to ensure that the soil does not get depleted of certain nutrients and to prevent pest and disease problems. When it comes to getting hold of the seeds, many companies offer the option to order online so there is no need to rely on garden centres or supermarkets. Try the likes of Suttons, Thompson and Morgan and Dobies as a starting point.

Once your crops are ready for harvest, you’ll have plenty of fresh and organic ingredients for cooking; there’s certainly something about home-grown produce that tastes better, and it’s a great way to encourage children to eat their greens too. However, the benefits of growing your own go far beyond this. Perhaps first and foremost, it can be beneficial for both mental and physical wellbeing, offering a way to get outside and giving you something to focus on. ‘There are very few, if any, other activities that can achieve all of the things that gardening can,’ reflects Guy. ‘In particular, the measurable impact on mental wellbeing, such as reductions in depression, anxiety and body mass index, as well as increases in life satisfaction and quality of life.’ It’s something that all the family can take part in too, serving as both a fun and educational activity for children, and it also means doing your bit for the environment. You’ll be reducing the food miles that are usually involved in transporting produce to supermarkets, minimising the need for synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, and playing your role in reducing monocropping, which is currently having a harmful impact on biodiversity.

Gardening is one of the most therapeutic, satisfying hobbies out there, and through growing your own fruit and vegetables, you’ll be doing your bit for the natural world too. And it doesn’t need to be as challenging as it might first seem – there is plenty of expert advice available online to help you to come into bloom.

Difference between Malawi and Uganda ?

We received today a new PAEPARD-message, called “Seven (7) lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic to Uganda’s food system“, written by Miiro Michael.

We read with interest these 7 lessons and notice that some of them also apply to Malawi :

Time has come that the Ministry of Agriculture doesn’t merely just have a name but to start recognising the centrality of the food storage services and initiating a system upgrade. The COVID-19 and the invasion of locusts have produced the most devastating food emergency in Uganda. I have come up with these seven (07) lessons; hopefully the Ministry of Agriculture can turn them into workable solutions for all Ugandans“.

2. Food production must be given primary importance within the agricultural services.

Wherever the Covid-19 epidemic has been well contained, as in Uganda, but it has to be noted that many people both in rural and urban are starving to death.  Agricultural activities at the district should be intensified and the agricultural staff should be facilitated at all levels to ensure increase in food production at household level.

4. Sub County extension workers are critical to guide and support farmers.

What we need to ensure is that extension workers who seem none existent as per now in Uganda are provided with the minimum basic requirements to fulfil their duties effectively, now as well as after the epidemic.  What we need to note is that very few Sub counties have extension workers, while those who are employed yet a large numbers of contractual extension staff working without job security need to be urgently regularised.

5. Market gardening in cities needs to be promoted.

The coronavirus epidemic is highly urban focussed – half of the confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported from predominantly urban related districts. This epidemic has exposed the vulnerable underbelly of Uganda’s capital, where major gaps exist in urban food systems as everyone regardless of his/ her economic status wanted government food!  All cities in Uganda need to set up food basket fund that focus on market gardening and also strengthen household food supply chain.

7. The market never regulates food supply in public interest. Uganda must ensure this.

With the closure of many public market and stores, many business communities lost it out. The best option is to empower farmers through cooperative unions to ensure constant supply of food. The Unionists will also determine the food prices unlike today. They also have a capacity to store food that can be consumed in future. The Covid-19 crisis can open opportunities for change”.

Compiled by:

Miiro Michael

Human Rights Advocate – A right to food, is everyone‘s Right

DHF Uganda Representative| 2017 Human Rights Advocates Program, Columbia University |

Family container gardening in Malawi

Published by PAEPARD (http://paepard.blogspot.com/)

Posted: 01 May 2020 12:28 AM PDT

This is a project in the region of Rumphi-Livingstonia (N.Malawi) in order to improve the living standards of the local population. It is focusing on school and family container gardening (the growing of vegetables, herbs and fruit trees in containers). Moreover, special attention is given to a boys and girls school sports programme.


Three friends, namely the Honorary Professors Wim Van Cotthem and Donald Gabriels and the civil engineer Dino Galbusera form a strong basic team for the promotion and coordination of this Malawi-Chitukuko project.

One of the main goals of this project, is teaching the school children of ALL the schools in the project area between Rumphi and Livingstonia on how to produce fresh food in different types of containers (bottles, buckets, crates, bags, sacks, tins, cans, drums, etc.).

Once the youngsters have learned at school (e.g. in their school garden) how to grow their own vegetables and herbs, they will inform their family about these opportunities and, later on, becoming adults themselves, they will apply these techniques when producing food for their own family.

Due to a lack of variation in agriculture (mainly maize), there is little food security. If corn cultivation fails, a hunger period follows.


Important quantities of fresh food can be produced with this container gardening method. All the school children, their teachers and consultants can become ambassadors of a radical change in the situation of the food crisis in Malawi.

Eating maize porridge as the main daily food has to be supplemented with vitamin rich and mineral rich vegetables and herbs to get a balanced nutrition. These fresh food products should not be grown outside the homes in the field, but close to the house, close to the kitchen, in all sorts of containers, if needed placed on risers.

Recycling bottles to alleviate malnutrition and hunger

Bottles with potting mix (local soil mixed with animal manure and some sawdust – Photo Liezl Aristoteloushttps://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3677270368966702&set=pcb.3418303444880747&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Bottles planted with vegetables and herbs – Photo Liezl Aristotelous‎ – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3677270252300047&set=pcb.3418303444880747&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Fresh food close to the kitchen – Photo Liezl Aristotelous‎ – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3677270148966724&set=pcb.3418303444880747&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Collect empty bottles, fill them with moistened potting mix, plant seeds or seedlings of vegetables and/or herbs in the potting mix, hang the bottles on a trellis or on a wall, add now and then some water and harvest when the plants are edible.

Survey shows Malawians don’t fear COVID-19 as much as hunger, healthcare collapse

June 1, 2020 – Green Muheya

A comment of one of the readers of Nyasa Times:

People are aware that for the Corona virus they can follow Aloe vera’s healing. But hunger has no alternative solution“.

(Aloe vera is a plant species).

===============

It’s a pity that not all the Malawians are aware of the fact that they could apply container gardening at home, without any significant costs. Anyone, even all the youngsters, can grow fresh food (vegetables, herbs, fruits) all year long in containers (pots, buckets, bottles, crates, tubs, etc.). That is a successful alternative solution for hunger and malnutrition.

Malawi’s Farmers Battle Armyworms

Most Malawians, 80 per cent of the population, are subsistence farmers, depending on agriculture for survival. After harvesting, many farmers sell a portion of their produce to buy necessities for their families.

“Because of armyworms I will not earn what I need to feed my family, and will also not have money to support my children with school fees and stationery” – According to farmers and agricultural experts, this growing season has been one of the worst.

The problem has been particularly severe this year, affecting about 150,000 hectares of maize. Just over 1,675,00 hectares of land are used for maize production in the country. In other households the loss has been up to 100% of the crop, where the only remedy is replanting.

“A number of farmer practices, such as physical crushing of armyworm egg masses and the use of botanical pesticides like Neem leaves and the tuberous shrub locally known as Mphanjovu (Neorautanenia mitis), have been found to be consistently better at reducing infestation levels and damage than some of the synthetic pesticides”.

AllAfricahttps://allafrica.com/stories/202005280712.html


Andrea Maliza, 35, could not believe his eyes when he gazed at his half-hectare maize field. Just a few weeks earlier, the father of two had reason to believe the healthy, young plants would result in a decent harvest.

Most Malawians, 80 per cent of the population, are subsistence farmers, depending on agriculture for survival. After harvesting, many farmers sell a portion of their produce to buy necessities for their families.

“I was downcast to see all the leaves with patches and I knew that something was seriously wrong,” said Mr. Maliza, who lives in Ligojo village in the southern district of Mulanje. “Inside the leaves were some worms similar to those that we have seen in previous years.”

“Because of armyworms I will not earn what I need to feed my family, and will also not have money to support my children with school fees and stationery,” added Mr. Maliza.

This was not the first time Mr. Maliza and hundreds of thousands of farmers in Malawi have experienced an invasion of armyworms. However, according to farmers and agricultural experts, this growing season has been one of the worst.

“Nobody was sure how to deal with the worms. Some people were physically crushing them and applying fluids from bitter crops. Personally, I didn’t do anything at all and just left them thinking they will go away when more rains come.” He adds he is yet to receive advice from agricultural authorities.

Lingering threat

In 2017, Malawi declared 20 of its 28 districts as disaster areas due to the aggressive pest that feeds on cereal crops like maize, a staple in many countries. That January, armyworms were reported in several countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, including Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. By April, most SADC countries were affected.

African countries are not alone in battling the pest. Last year, armyworms showed up in 10 Asian countries, including Bangladesh, China, India and Thailand. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) armyworms are native to the Americas.

According to Malawian agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, the problem has been particularly severe this year, affecting about 150,000 hectares of maize. Just over 1,675,00 hectares of land are used for maize production in the country.

“In terms of harvest losses, I am sure much will be known as we do the second and third round crops estimates. However, in other households the loss has been up to 100% of the crop, where the only remedy is replanting,” Mr. Nkhono-Mvula told Africa Renewal in an interview.

Mr. Nkhono-Mvula says that more needs to be done to understand how best to deal with armyworms, given their foreign origin.

“We need to invest quite a lot in research. We probably need to come up with resistant crop varieties and other biological means of controlling the pest, as heavy use of chemicals may have negative effects on the environment,” he added.

Multifaceted approach

FAO has been working closely with the Malawi government to strengthen regular and real-time monitoring of the armyworm, recently rolling out a mobile application dubbed Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning System.

Together with the European Union, FAO is also working in districts on sustainable armyworm management methods, and conducting nationwide training sessions for trainers who, in turn, train frontline extension workers.

“A number of farmer practices, such as physical crushing of armyworm egg masses and the use of botanical pesticides like Neem leaves and the tuberous shrub locally known as Mphanjovu (Neorautanenia mitis), have been found to be consistently better at reducing infestation levels and damage than some of the synthetic pesticides,” said FAO Malawi’s George Phiri.

Mr. Phiri touted this as a positive development, “offering affordable solutions which farmers can access easily, encouraging cultivation of plants useful to communities and the reduced use of synthetic pesticides, some of which are highly hazardous and pose major risks to human health and the environment.”

“Malawi recently hosted a delegation from Botswana, courtesy of support of the government of Japan, to learn from Malawian farmers of this successful story,” he said.

The Malawi government says that agricultural workers have been briefed on the importance of an integrated approach to pest management, and is distributing some pesticides to agricultural authorities and districts in armyworm-affected areas.

“As government, we promote both indigenous and modern technologies to do away with the armyworms. We urge farmers to liaise with extension workers or agriculture officers for advice on promotion of indigenous ways of controlling and managing the armyworms. This is to avoid killing the crop in the process or rendering it to be hazardous to the environment or humans,” said Priscilla Mateyu, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.

“Mobile vans have been deployed to affected areas for sensitization on control of the outbreaks. Efforts have also been made for the mobile van to sensitize farmers in areas where there are no outbreaks, to alert them,” said Ms. Mateyu.

With just a few weeks left before harvest, Mr. Maliza is still not sure how much produce he will be able to salvage. Before the invasion, he harvested 10 to 20 bags of maize per year.

“Looking at the size and quality of the cobs, I doubt if I am going to get even half of that,” he said.

Read the original article on Africa Renewal.

School children should grow vegetables in bottles at school

Here is something that should be learned by every school child at school : growing vegetables in bottles.

Let every school child bring a number of bottles to the school and teach them how to grow their own vegetables. It is so easy that all the children will enjoy to see their own food crops growing. And for sure, they will take that idea back home and show their family how to do it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the school children growing onions, cabbages and other vegetables in bottles at school ? It is so simple that every child can learn it in the shortest time.
Show the children how to cut a part of the wall of a bottle to transform it into a container that can be filled with moistened fertile soil (local soil enriched with a bit of animal manure). Let the children be responsible for sowing the vegetables of their choice and some watering now and then. They will be extremely interested and proud to see “their own vegetables” growing.
Show them how to transplant the small seedlings from the first bottle (the horizontal one) in a vertical one, in which the vegetable (here tomatoes) can continue their growth.
Imagine the pleasure for the young people to get tomatoes and other vegetables growing at school. Imagine how proud they will be to be able to eat their own tomatoes !
And their cabbages could go to the school kitchen for a fine lunch at school.

USE CARTONS TO COMBAT DROUGHT AND GET A HIGHER YIELD

Here is a simple method to keep the soil around certain plants in your garden relatively humid during drought periods : place cartons around the stem of the plants you want to protect.

The evaporating water will be kept a while underneath the cartons and create there a thin air layer containing a higher degree of humidity. Thus, evaporation into the drier air will slow down and the soil under the cartons will save its moisture for a longer period. (see photos below).

Parts of carton boxes placed around the stem of some plants, e.g. the stem of maize plants, keep the soil around the roots more humid during the drought, which results in a better yield. – Photo Fabio Ruiz (Colotlan, Jalisco, Mexico)
Protection of a fruit tree sapling with a carton around the stem – Photo Fabio Ruiz.
Sapling of a papaya tree – Underneath two egg cartons, placed around the stem, a lot of humid air can be stocked, resulting in slowing down evaporation from the soil and keeping the soil around the root ball more humid during periods of drought. – Photo Fabio Ruiz.

Growing mandarin trees ? I did it my way !

Citrus trees are tropical plants. They can be grown in temperate climates as houseplants in containers, kept outdoors in summer, indoors in winter. Most of the citrus fruits are hybrids. Any citrus seed we sow can become a productive hybrid plant, but if it produces fruits, these will be different in appearance and taste from the original. 

To get always the same fruits, one has to use grafted trees. Cuttings are taken from the desired plant and attached to a rootstock from another citrus variety. This is called “cloning“.

Satsuma tangerines are one of the few citrus plants that bears fruit similar to the parent when grown from seed.

https://www.homestolove.com.au/how-to-grow-a-mandarin-from-seed-12329

1. SAVING SEEDS

I collect a number of the biggest seeds I find when eating some large mandarin oranges (the flatter seeds will not germinate). Fresh seeds of all the citrus plants (clementines, tangerines, lemons, grapefruits, pomelos, limes…) are surrounded by 2 distinct layers :

(a) a tiny slippery layer of an acidic gel-like substance (mucilage), providing a protective barrier to prevent that the tender seed is germinating inside the fruit;

(b) the whitish harder seed coat, consisting of 2 half shells sealed together.

To eliminate the mucilage layer I keep the seeds a while in my mouth. My salive is thereby dissolving the gel-like substance.

To eliminate the hard seeds coat and set the tender seed free, I cut off its pointed end with scissors or nail clippers.

Now I can easily separate the 2 halves of the seed coat and set the seed free.

https://foundbeautystudio.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/lemon-germination-7.jpg
https://foundbeautystudio.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/lemon-germination-8.jpg

I repeat these actions for a number of seeds.

2. SOWING THE SEEDS

I sow the seeds in a tray filled with a quantity of my homemade, moistened potting mix (local soil mixed with a bit of chicken manure or compost and some sawdust). I gently push the seed about 5 mm deep into the soil and cover it with some mix. Finally, I spray some water over the soil surface and cover it with a sheet of transparant plastic to form a mini-greenhouse.

3. KEEPING THE TRAY WARM

I keep the tray warm by placing it in a warm spot, e.g. on a windowsill.

4. KEEPING THE TRAY MOIST

I keep the potting mix continuously moist, but not soaking wet (better to underwater than to over-water citrus seedlings; they hate to have their roots in water). Germination normally takes around 2 weeks. Some seeds will sprout faster than others.

In this tray I first kept an avocado seed for a longer period. When it started germinating, i also pushed some mandarin seeds in the potting mix. Two weeks later they germinated in turn. Meanwhile, the avocado seedling continued its growth. Photo WVC P1150049.

5. PLANTING THE SEEDLINGS

When seedlings are about 5 cm high, they can be planted separately in a small container (not too large, e.g. 10 cm) or grouped in a bigger container. If the climate allows it, the seedlings can be kept in a sunny spot, but the potting soil has to be kept moistened all the time.

The green seedlings of my mandarins are reaching the right stage for transplantation in a bigger container. Photo WVC P1150053.

As you can see, it is really simple to get a number of mandarin plants from seeds. However, it can take 3-6 years before the self-pollinating mandarin trees are flowering and fruiting.

You can also have a look at the following videos : https://youtu.be/DBCJKkDcnVU and https://youtu.be/XC67v3q-m28.

If you want to grow your own oranges, tangerines, clementines mandarins, limes, kumquats and grapefruits …

First read the 2 articles below.

Using Citrus Seeds to Grow Your Own Citrus Fruithttps://www.citrus.com/blog/using-citrus-seeds-to-grow-your-own-citrus-fruit/

Have you thought about growing citrus by planting your own citrus seeds?

Citrus plants are very fragrant, have beautiful flowers, and usually grow very well indoors. Citrus fruits are a healthy and delicious snack and can also add a lot of flavor to various gourmet dishes. You can grow your fruit indoors at home using citrus seeds. Make sure that the seeds you use to start your plants are from a high quality supplier so that they have a better chance of growing properly.

https://www.citrus.com/blog/tag/citrus-seeds/

You don’t have to have a green thumb in order to successfully grow your own citrus at home.  If you are diligent about protecting the seeds and later the plants from drafts, direct sunlight, and other things that can kill or hurt newly grown plants then you should be able to successfully grow your own citrus fruit all year round. The first thing that you will need to start growing your own citrus fruit is seeds.  You can get seeds from a piece of fruit that you’ve eaten.

Once you have some high quality seeds you can start the seeds growing by planting them in a small pot using a mixture of potting soil and mulch.  To help the growth process of the plants place a cover of clear plastic wrap over the plants when they are not being watered. This helps to protect the growing plant from the cold and will make the citrus seeds germinate faster. The plants should be kept in a room where the temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  It will take a few weeks for the plants to really start growing but after about three weeks you should start to see leaves growing.  When the plants are well established it’s time to transplant.

Move the plants to bigger pots and use a good quality potting soil to make sure the plants get the nutrients they need.  Place the plants in a location where they can get plenty of sunlight but make sure it’s not direct sunlight.  Direct sunlight can be too harsh for young plants and can burn the newly developed leaves.  As the plant grows you will need to keep repotting it into bigger containers but the plant should always be kept in an area with bright sunlight and a temperature of about 70 degrees in order to get the best fruit.

The quality of the potting soil and even the water that you use can make a difference in whether or not the citrus seeds that were planted grow properly and eventually bear fruit.  Remember that because the plant is being grown indoors all the nutrients it needs have to come from the potting soil and choose a potting soil that is recommended for citrus plants. It’s best to use distilled water to water the plants so that the leaves aren’t harmed by any of the chemicals that are usually in tap water.

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Growing a Citrus plant from seed all the way to the fruiting stage is a big fun – https://empressofdirt.net/grow-citrus-seed/

Can’t I just toss seeds in some soil and get a plant that way?

Yes, absolutely! But, if you want a 100% success rate—and know ahead of time that the seeds will germinate and do so quickly—instead of waiting many weeks to discover it’s not going to work—do the extra steps listed (below).

How big will a potted citrus tree grow?

It’s up to you. Citrus trees in-ground get quite large but, by growing in containers, growth is somewhat inhibited. As your plant grows, you can repot it into the next size container until it’s as large as you want it. Often the weight of the container determines the stopping point because it gets too heavy to lug around.

Once the plant is as large as you want (years from now), you can root prune it to keep it healthy. This is just how it sounds: you remove the plant from the container, trim back the roots, replenish the potting mix, and repot it.

How to Sprout Citrus Seeds

Citrus fruits you can grow from seed.

Supplies

  • Citrus fruit (choose varieties that have seeds)
  • Sieve (for rinsing seeds – optional)
  • Paper towel
  • Nail clippers
  • Food storage container or food bags
  • Small cups or plant pots with drainage holes
  • Potting mix 
Citrus fruits including oranges and lemons with plant tags.

Some citrus fruit has nice, plump seeds that work great for germinating. Others have odd, flat seed-like shells, seemingly devoid of any real growing power. Those are not likely to germinate.

Citrus seeds in a cup of water.

Place seeds in a small cup of water. If they sink to the bottom, they should be viable. If they float, they are not (discard them). If seeds have jelly-like coating, rinse in a strainer and gently push it off with soft towel.

Nail clippers and a citrus seed.

This step can significantly speed up the germination time. Seeds naturally come with outer protection that prevents unwanted germination. For citrus, the seeds have both a hard seed coat (made of two half shells sealed together), protecting the tender seed inside, and there may also be gel around the seed, to provide an additional barrier. That’s why the seeds don’t sprout in the fruit—the moisture can’t reach them. To make germination go faster, we can remove both that gel coat (rinse in a strainer and gently push it off with soft towel) and the hard shell.

Look for the hard, flat pointed end of the seed shell and snip it off with nail clippers, careful not to damage the actual seed inside.

Nail clippers and citrus seed.

Gently slide your fingernail between the two shell pieces to pry them open/apart and remove them (break them apart). There are also skin-like layers inside which I leave alone (the seed will grow fine with the skin there). Don’t worry if some skin falls off.

Plastic food bag with orange tag and binder clip.

Moisten a few sheets of paper towel and place the seeds on it, at least an inch apart in all directions to leave room for root growth. Cover with another layer of moist paper towel and place in a food storage tub with lid or food storage bag. You want the seeds in contact with warm moisture ongoing. Not too damp. And don’t let them dry out. Place everything in a warm, dark location.

Newly sprouting orange seeds.

Check the seeds every few days. If needed, spritz the towel to keep it moist. You want it moist, not dry or soaking wet. Some will sprout really fast! Others may take weeks. Wrap it back up and put it back in the cupboard. We want roots at least an inch long before planting.

Citrus seedlings in potting mix.

When there is at least an inch of roots, you can sow the seedlings in potting mix. The roots often look thick and off-white, like bean sprouts. In some cases, the plant stem may also start growing. Plant the sprouted seed in a small cup, pot, or other container with drainage holes.

A regular organic potting mix is good for clay and other non-plastic pots. I prefer to use separate little pots but sometimes I have limited room for lighting so I will put them all in one container for the first few months.

Young citrus plant seedlings.

Position the roots just below the soil surface. Any other growth can be above soil level. Gently press the potting mix around the plant so it’s snugly in place. Water thoroughly, top up potting mix if needed, and gradually transition plant to a warm, sunny location over a few weeks.

Citrus plant growing in small cup. This one is a lemon tree.

Grafted lemon tree in a pot with flowers and fruit forming.

How long will it take to grow my citrus plant?

Citrus trees are slow-growers and heavy feeders, doing best with 8-12 hours of sunlight per day. The less light, the slower the growth. I started several different hybrids from seed and after 5 months (from the day I removed the seed from the fruit) they range in size from 4 to 7 inches tall. Keep in mind that reduced light and warmth in winter (indoors) will slow or stall growth.

It may be 3-5 years before flowers form, then pollination can occur (you can help it), and fruit forms. Small fruit may ripen over several months, larger fruit can take much longer.

Basic Citrus Tree Care Tips – Container Growing

1. Provide 8-12 hours of sunlight each day. Avoid direct, burning sun.
2. Ensure pot has good drainage.

6. Do not allow soil to dry out. Moderate, even moisture is best. 
7. Most citrus plants are self-pollinating; some benefit from pollination assistance (you or insects).

Don’t hesitate to grow tomatoes in buckets

Photo Shannon Parrish Smith : tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10223350257803539&set=gm.3407118932665865&type=3&theater

We suggest to punch 2 opposite drainage holes in the sidewall at 5 cm above the bottom to stock a quantity of water in the buckets at each watering. That quantity will gradually moisten the potting mix above and be absorbed by the roots.

Drums are precious objects for Malawian farmers

You can use a number of drums for different applications with a high return on investment.

Every farmer should have at least one rain barrel for collecting rain water with a gutter at the edge of the roof. – Photo https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208467462103455&set=pcb.1101568073220974&type=3&theater&ifg=1 – Vegetable Gardener – kg28-cool-garden-containers-11_lg.jpg
This drum can be filled with potting mix (local soil with some animal manure or compost and some sawdust or wood chips). Seedlings of vegetables and herbs can be planted in the slits (see also next photos) – Gardenator – Photo Andy Howell – 379067_10100213171659295_21402951_45432534_2011363464_n.jpg – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208467437422838&set=pcb.1101568073220974&type=3&theater&ifg=1
After cutting the numerous slits in the sidewall of the drum, the inner wall of the drum is heated and the wall is pushed inwards and outwards with a piece of wood that remains in the opening until cooling down of the plastic. Thus room is created to plant a seedling in the slit (see right side). – Gardenator – Photo Andy Howell – 424176_10100410352567175_21402951_46118582_1248900511_n.jpg – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208467438022853&set=pcb.1101568073220974&type=3&theater&ifg=1
A white tube is positioned in the center of the drum, which is then filled with moistened potting mix. Strawberry seedlings planted in all the slits. – Photo Pinterest – 218917231856564344_rC6ac3VD_f.jpg – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208467449503140&set=pcb.1101568073220974&type=3&theater&ifg=1
The white tube in the center of the drum has several perforations in its sidewall. When filled with water, this water can drain outwards to keep the potting mix moistened. A cap is placed on top of the white tube to keep its inside clean. These beet seedlings are growing very well. – Gardenator – Photo Andy Howell – 424176_10100410352567175_21402951_46118582_1248900511_n.jpg – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208467440342911&set=pcb.1101568073220974&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Without a white irrigation tube in the center, one can also plant the surface of the potting mix. This sidewall is completely covered with herbs. Vegetables are grown in many other containers. – Photo Novos Rurais – 1240202_659555130730757_1905300829_n.jpg – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208467447223083&set=pcb.1101568073220974&type=3&theater&ifg=1
A drum can be a kitchen garden in itself with different vegetables and herbs. – Photo Novos Rurais – 1240202_659555130730757_1905300829_n.jpg – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208467447583092&set=pcb.1101568073220974&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Here is a suggestion for NGOs : when sending aid materials to your development project, ship them in drums. Those drums will be warm welcomed by the recipients of your project.

School meals, school gardens and kitchen gardens at home

Photo –Pots—Photo-ALi-Usman-(Faisalabad,-Pakistan)—10482723_735677619806754_1753990381_n (3)
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Please read the VOA-article below : “Malawi Learners Get School Meals at Home”.

You will get a very positive feeling about the “school meal“-action of the international charity MARY’s MEALS. This is a feeding program in one-third of Malawi’s elementary schools, that has started distributing food to poor communities to help them cope with the coronavirus pandemic that forced the Malawian schools to close in March 2020.

We read that “the young learners receive hot porridge made from maize or soya bean flour mixed with salt and sugar” and that “The aim is to increase enrollment for children who might fail to attend classes because of hunger in their families, and to meet the nutrition needs of the students”.

We find this very noble and congratulate the MARY’s MEALS charity with this fantastic initiative, described in the Voice of America’s publication : https://www.voanews.com/africa/malawi-learners-get-school-meals-home, written by Lameck Masina (May 25, 2020).

From the declaration of Bart ROMBAUT, the country director for Mary’s Meals in Malawi, we also learn that the pandemic “has forced the charity to find new ways of feeding the children in compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures. We decided to make ready-made food packages that the parents collect at schools and take home. We want to limit interactions between human beings and at the same time make sure that the individual child receives our nutritious meal.

Again, this is a recommendable initiative, deserving our full support.

However, when a mother of two says : “This is helping us a lot, and because of this pandemic, things are not working. We are facing food shortages in our homes. So as a family the food stuffs we are receiving for our children are helping us because we are cooking porridge to cater to the whole family”, we are feeling the need to come up with a couple of questions.

(1) Knowing that 37 % of the children in Malawi are undernourished, do they all get school meals ?

(2) If these 37 % of the children get a nutritious meal (consisting of hot porridge made from maize, soya bean flour, salt and sugar) that is collected by the parents at school and thereby helping the whole family at home, do all these children get such a “nutritious” meal every day ?

(3) Knowing that eating a porridge meal every day is not covering at all the need for vitamins and minerals, wouldn’t it be advisable that all the families suffering from malnutrition could be helped to a kitchen garden by applying the simple and almost cost-free technique of container gardening ?

For this we refer to a series of articles already published on this blog.

It would be nice if MARY’s MEALS would also support this “container gardening – idea” to add some sustainability to their marvellous action.

Malawi Learners Get School Meals at Home

https://www.voanews.com/africa/malawi-learners-get-school-meals-home

Distributing food to poor communities to help them cope; hot porridge made from maize or soya bean flour mixed with salt and sugar. The aim is to increase enrollment for children who might fail to attend classes because of hunger in their families, and to meet the nutrition needs of the students. Approximately one million children in Malawi are covered by this action.

To find new ways of feeding the children in compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures. To make ready-made food packages that the parents collect at schools and take home.

Although the meals are meant for her children, the whole family is benefiting. The food stuffs we are receiving for our children are helping us because we are cooking porridge to cater to the whole family.

BLANTYRE – Elementary school children in Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest countries, normally get free meals at school; but, when the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close in March, families were left with the added cost burden. The international charity Mary’s Meals, which runs the feeding program in one-third of Malawi’s elementary schools, has started distributing food to poor communities to help them cope.

Mary’s Meals has been feeding thousands of children in the schools for the past 18 years.

The young learners receive hot porridge made from maize or soya bean flour mixed with salt and sugar.

The aim is to increase enrollment for children who might fail to attend classes because of hunger in their families, and to meet the nutrition needs of the students.

Bart Rombaut is the country director for Mary’s Meals in Malawi. He spoke to VOA by telephone.

“We normally work in around 1,116 primary schools in Malawi. And we have a focus on some special schools like children who are suffering from HIV/AIDS, and also disabled children, so those children receive special attention…So, approximately one million children in Malawi are covered by this action,” he said.

The closure of schools in March because of COVID- 19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, deprived students of this source of nutrition, posing a threat to their health.

Rombaut said this has forced the charity to find new ways of feeding the children in compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures.

“We decided to make ready-made food packages that the parents collect at schools and take home. We want to limit interactions between human beings and at the same time make sure that the individual child receives our nutritious meal.”

Lizinet Kanamule said her two children are benefiting from the school feeding program.

She told VOA via telephone that although the meals are meant for her children, the whole family is benefiting.

She said, “This is helping us a lot, and because of this pandemic, things are not working. We are facing food shortages in our homes. So as a family the food stuffs we are receiving for our children are helping us because we are cooking porridge to cater to the whole family.”

Rombaut said the new program is expected to run through July when the Malawian school year normally ends.

He said prospects are high the initiative will resume should the schools remain closed at the start of the new school year in September.

In lockdown ? You can use old crates and plastic bags to grow food crops. Keep it simple.

Photo Jean Bow-Beeton : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=137067047951720&set=pcb.3402965806414511&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Jean Bow-Beeton : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=137067074618384&set=pcb.3402965806414511&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Avoid drought and floods in your fields. Get your daily food crops close to your house. Keep everything under control in the easiest way, without extra costs. Fill your crates and bags with local soil, fertilized with a bit of animal manure and some sawdust or wood chips.

Eggplants in free bottles

Can it be easier ? Collect a number of waste plastic bottles. Fill them with a mix of local garden soil, a bit of chicken manure and some sawdust or wood chips. Plant one seedling of the eggplant (Solanum melongena) in each bottle. Keep the content of the bottles moistened and harvest the nice fruits ripening in your backyard.

Don’t forget to punch 2 opposite drainage holes in the sidewall of the bottles at 2-3 cm above the bottom.

Wishing you success.

Photo Ma Teresa Delfin : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3350156558342171&set=pcb.3399999806711111&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Ma Teresa Delfin : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3350156798342147&set=pcb.3399999806711111&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Ma Teresa Delfin : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3350156955008798&set=pcb.3399999806711111&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Ma Teresa Delfin : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3350156631675497&set=pcb.3399999806711111&type=3&theater&ifg=1
Photo Charity Madarang Betonio Reyno : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=572744753618140&set=pcb.3402153523162406&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Collect free waste containers and start producing all the food crops you normally grow in your fields

Canisters, tubs, drums, buckets, bags, … whatever you can find : Every single free container or recipient that can hold some soil can be used to grow all the food crops you normally grow in your fields. But here your crops are much more protected against drought or floods. And as this is not a vulnerable monoculture, your crops are also protected against pests.

Another advantage of container gardening is the fact that you can fertilize the content of your containers without any supplementary cost for industrial fertilizers. Your local soil is free. You can add a bit of free chicken manure and some free sawdust (an excellent organic component). Get your food crops growing to a maximum without major difficulties; harvest the fresh food close to your kitchen to improve the daily diet of your family members, in particular the one of your children. And once the food crops harvested in your container, you plant it again immediately afterwards, all year long.
Why would you continue to try getting the complete surface of your field fertile ? Why would you stay dependent on the adverse climatic factors like drought and heavy rains ? Why would you always be afraid of a possible invasion of one of the pests ? Get your own free container garden and grow all the vegetables, herbs and fruits you want for free. The only investment you need is to start with a handful of seeds of all the crops you want to grow (just a handful is enough, not a full bottle or bag). Indeed, keep a small number of each crop species growing in the containers until they are flowering and forming seeds. Then collect your free seeds for the next growing season. From there off you are the owner of a completely free kitchen garden for the production of excellent and healthy food for your family.
Make your family happy with a row of containers around the house, a pleasant situation for all your family members who can follow every day the growth of the food crops and, whenever needed, add a bit of water to keep the plants growing.
This nice collection of containers : bags, pots, canisters, tubs, … was totally free. Whatever this man could find to hold some mix of local soil, chicken manure and sawdust (or small wood chips), he used it to produce vegetables and herbs close to his house. Difficult ? No way ! He got his garden ready within the shortest time.

Child malnutrition ? Lack of food diversity in the family diet ? Hunger because of the drought or floods ? Forget it !

This is what we hope to see at our Malawi-Chitukuko project, the sooner, the better.

And if we are able to publish on this blog a nice series of similar photos as the ones above, we will find the necessary support to help many more Malawian friends to the same treasures for their family or their school.

To grow tea in a changing climate, growers may need to plan decades in advance

The economic life cycle of a tea bush lasts 60 to 80 years.

But in many places like Kenya and Malawi, Africa’s top tea-producing countries, climate change threatens tea production. During a heat wave, the leaves on tea bushes can scorch and turn brown. Drought can make the problem even worse.

Growers can use the information to adapt, for example by planting shade trees near crops or starting to grow more heat-tolerant varieties of tea.

(Photo credit: musicfiend / Flickr)

https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/05/to-grow-tea-in-a-changing-climate-growers-may-need-to-plan-decades-in-advance/

Tea is the second-most consumed drink on Earth, after water. But in many places like Kenya and Malawi, Africa’s top tea-producing countries, climate change threatens tea production. “They are experiencing warmer temperatures than average and higher frequency of hot weather events,” says Neha Mittal, a research fellow at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

She says during a heat wave, the leaves on tea bushes can scorch and turn brown. Drought can make the problem even worse. Mittal is part of a project that generates site-specific predictions of future tea growing conditions in Kenya and Malawi. Growers can use the information to adapt, for example by planting shade trees near crops or starting to grow more heat-tolerant varieties of tea.

“It takes eight to nine years for a newly planted tea bush to become productive,” she says, “and an average economic life cycle of a tea bush is around 60 to 80 years.” So Mittal says the choices growers make now will affect their livelihoods for decades to come.

“This highlights how crucial informed long-term decision-making is for the tea sector,” she says. “I think to know what the future holds is really important for the industry.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Growing food to tackle coronavirus and child malnutrition in Malawi

WFP and Government are working to train mothers in agriculture as poor diets put the lives of 56,000 children at risk.

Of the 100 million people WFP aims to reach in 2020, 22 million are children and nursing mothers in need of lifesaving malnutrition prevention and treatment. Projections from WFP suggest COVID-19 could push a further 130 million into severe hunger, bringing the total to 265 million.

“However, to sustain them on the path to recovery, we train them to grow and prepare locally available foods, such as the yellow-flesh sweet potato, beans, groundnuts and other.” Stunting remains very high at 37.1 percent.

Childhood malnutrition in Malawi is perpetuated through the impacts of recurrent climate shocks. Without access to adequate food and nutrition, children under 5 are at high risk of acute malnutrition, which can result in irreversible setbacks to their development for the rest of their lives.

Usually, when children fall sick with malnutrition in Malawi, they are taken to a health centre to receive Super Cereal Plus, a nutrient-rich, high-energy dense porridge flour. But sometimes there are other underlying issues; children can fall sick again after showing signs of recovery.

Potato complements foodstuffs such as maize, soya beans and groundnuts which she grows on her farm.

Empowered to grow: Dorica with homegrown, vitamin-A rich, sweet potatoes. Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji

https://insight.wfp.org/growing-food-to-tackle-coronavirus-and-child-malnutrition-in-malawi-e9ffedcbd3f

Francis Thawani

Francis Thawani

“While my son, Chrispine, was being treated for malnutrition at the hospital, I received orange-fleshed potato vines which I planted the same year,” says Dorica Samson, from Nambirikira Village in Malawi’s Dedza District. “Potato is very rich in vitamin A and I feed my five children and husband to stay healthy.”

Aged 2 in 2017, Chrispine continued to feed solely on breast milk, refusing to eat anything. Eventually, he fell sick. He was admitted to Mtendere Community Hospital for supplementary feeding provided by the Government in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Ireland. The nutritional support he received put him back on track.

Of the 100 million people WFP aims to reach in 2020, 22 million are children and nursing mothers in need of lifesaving malnutrition prevention and treatment. Projections from WFP suggest COVID-19 could push a further 130 million into severe hunger, bringing the total to 265 million.

According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, published in The Lancet, 1.2 million children under-5 could die over the next six months if health care and food markets are disrupted.

William Magombo, a health surveillance assistant at Mtendere Community Hospital, has seen many stories like Dorica’s.

“We have been raising awareness with pregnant and breastfeeding women on nutrition and healthy diets,” says William. “However, to sustain them on the path to recovery, we train them to grow and prepare locally available foods, such as the yellow-flesh sweet potato, beans, groundnuts and other.”

Malawi faces high levels of stunting that results from poor childhood diets and infections — an estimated 56,000 under-5s suffer acute malnutrition. And only 8 percent of children under the age of 2 consume the minimum acceptable diet. While down almost 10 percent since 2010, stunting remains very high at 37.1 percent.

Childhood malnutrition in Malawi is perpetuated through the impacts of recurrent climate shocks. Without access to adequate food and nutrition, children under 5 are at high risk of acute malnutrition, which can result in irreversible setbacks to their development for the rest of their lives.

William prepares to assess the nutrition status of an infant at Mtendere Community Hospital using the mid-upper arm circumference testing. Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji

Usually, when children fall sick with malnutrition in Malawi, they are taken to a health centre to receive Super Cereal Plus, a nutrient-rich, high-energy dense porridge flour. But sometimes there are other underlying issues; children can fall sick again after showing signs of recovery.

While her son was being treated, Dorica was involved in a programme to learn how to grow and prepare nutritious food for her family through health and nutrition sessions conducted by health monitors — hence the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes she planted.

Potato complements foodstuffs such as maize, soya beans and groundnuts which she grows on her farm. From these, with the training she got at the hospital, Dorica and her family of six have a rich and nutritious diet.

Chrispine and his brother take a yellow sweet potato lunch. Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji

Dorica now has a six-month-old baby but does not need to go again to the hospital for nutrition support. In spite of restrictions on movement and gatherings, Dorica has all nutritional solutions for her family right at her doorstep.

“I make porridge and fritters from the potato and Chrispine likes it so much — it is delicious and full of nutrients”, she says. “I feed the entire family and they love it,” she says. “With this potato and other crops I grow, I have enough food and even with the little baby, I do not go to the hospital for nutrition support.”

Poultry production challenges

https://theconversation.com/if-africa-learnt-to-feed-its-chickens-it-could-feed-its-people-65571

A woman in northern Ethiopia feeds her chickens. Bill Gates has estimated that a farmer breeding five hens could generate up to $1,000 a year. Flickr/Jeannie O’Brien

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Africa, which imports nearly 83% of the food it consumes, has a real chicken and egg problem. The continent is caught between pressure from imports in some countries and an inability to meet demand in others.

Africa’s chicken crisis is an expression of overall weaknesses in its agricultural system. If Africa cannot raise its grain production it cannot expect do well in increasing its chicken output.

It is a complex problem. Producing chickens requires low-cost feed such as corn. Yet producing grain to meet human needs remains one of the continent’s most pressing challenges. Africa’s urban populations, for example, are growing faster than the continent can produce grain. This has contributed to Africa’s shift from being a net food exporter to being a net food importer.

The inability to ramp up grain production has affected Africa’s ability to feed its people as well as its chicken. Its imports for grain as well as chicken have been rising as a result. Its import of poultry products is estimated at $3 billion a year.

Poultry production challenges

At face value the situation looks like an opportunity for entrepreneurs to align production with the rising demand. The challenge, however, is more deep-rooted. The factors (such as poor infrastructure, low investment in research, limited technical training and a lack of farm incentives) limiting poultry production are similar to those affecting the rest of the agricultural system. In fact, countries with more advanced agricultural sectors such as South Africa, Egypt and Morocco are the ones that lead the continent in poultry production.

The solution to Africa’s chicken crisis lies in upgrading agricultural systems overall. Here are the major limitations:

  • Low-cost, high-quality feed. Expanding feed production involves investing in grain production, especially corn and soya. Research to increase efficiency and expand the range of feed sources will go a long way in helping to upgrade overall system.
  • The lack of starter stock (chicks and broilers bred specifically for meat production). Improvements in this area will require better breeding and extension programs akin to those needed for crops. Nearly 84% of chicken in Kenya is based on local breeds that have low levels of efficiency in converting feed into meat.
  • Disease control. The most common threat to chickens is Newcastle disease. But the frightening spectrum of new infectious diseases calls for more investment in livestock diseases in general and chicken diseases in particular. Disease control is a problem for both crop and livestock producers.
  • Poor infrastructure (especially energy, transportation and water supply systems) is a major barrier to the expansion of chicken production, especially in rural areas. A lack of cold storage facilities forces farmers to keep feeding their chickens instead of slaughtering and refrigerating them. They generally transport live chickens to markets, which raises logistical costs and increases concerns over disease transmission.
  • The lack of credit for producers. Countries that provide credit for crop producers to purchase seed and farm input have the opportunity to extend their incentives to chicken production. Most African countries lack such systems and it is unlikely that they will introduce them for poultry farming if they do not have them for crop production.

So far Africa can hardly feed its people. But even worse, it cannot feed its chickens so that it can feed its people. The chicken crisis is yet another reason why Africa must focus on getting its agricultural act together. The crisis is a warning to African leaders: they need to wake up with the chickens and act in time.

Poultry tips : make your own chicken feed

©Chris Daly
Food scraps may reduce feeding costs.

http://southafrica.co.za/poultry-feeding-tips.html

In an article on the Poultrysite.com, Jan Grobbelaar of Dumela Poultry Solutions have the following tips for farmers who cannot afford to buy feed.

Firstly, they can produce their own fly larvae to feed the birds. This can be done by placing rotten food scraps, such as cabbage, in a bucket that is suspended on a pole.

The food scraps will attract flies, which will lay their eggs in it. Holes should be made at the bottom of the bucket, so the larvae, which will move to the bottom of the bucket will fall through the holes. Another bucket or a tray can be placed below the larvae producing bucket to catch the larvae.

A second alternative is to harvest termites. For sustainable production, Grobbelaar teaches farmers to remove only part of the termite nest by making a hole in it. The hole is then covered up with dry grass to accelerate the restoration of the nest. It takes nine months before a nest can be harvested again.

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https://farmingsouthafrica.co.za/how-to-make-your-own-chicken-feed/

Chickens do spill when they eat, so feeding them whole grain feed will save you money as they will pick up the spills whereas a powdered feed will be lost. For smaller chicks you can crack the grains.

When you buy chicken feed at the stores (generally 14% to 16%) you need to know that there is nothing wrong with that mix, but with you own mix you can increase the protein levels especially when it comes to broilers.

Corn surprisingly enough, has very little nutrition value, it is mostly calories and you want to add a bigger percentage corn to your chicken feed in winter times to help fatten up broilers and keep them warm at nights.

A video for beginners

Nicholas Allen Noble shared a link.

I see a lot of people right now wanting to get into being more self sufficient and wanting to be able to grow their own food from home but they have literally no idea where to start.

In my opinion growing food in containers is by far the easiest way to get started.

This video talks about how to get started container gardening and we talk about a few tips that some people don’t think about that can take your container garden to the next level.

Free food for Malawi

Grow your own eggplants (brinjal) – Free bags, free local soil mixed with free chicken manure and free sawdust. Get some seeds of the eggplant and grow your own free food. Save some seeds from a couple of eggplant fruits and stock them for the next season. Do the same with all the vegetables and herbs you normally eat during the year. Ready you are for getting food security, thanks to free container gardening.
Photo Edlyn Rafael : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=325280248459734&set=gm.3395079543869804&type=3&theater&ifg=1

For people who do not believe in container gardening

A message of Stan Knott (Oklahoma, USA) : “Been a couple months, I figured I’d to show the group the growth on my feed bag/container idea. It’s going pretty well. Been harvesting a few things. The various cabbages are forming heads. So far it’s working out fine.

List of inputs (almost no costs) :

Free feed bags (or any other type of bags)

Local soil and sawdust (50/50)

Chicken droppings and compost

Wood ash

A handful of seeds

This is all basically free. The bags are those woven 50 pound dog food bags. I’ve seen others growing in feed bags. Filled with soil, compost and sawdust from a local mill. I arranged them in roughly 5 x 5 squares once full. Then filled the space inside the bags with the same mix to create a raised bed. Using them as a raised bed container is something of my own conception. The late March and April sowing I pack them tightly. Reason is as they grow the plants themselves provide their own shade for the soil below.  I’m a big direct seeder. I save my own seed, so they aren’t hard to come by. I will plant a “pinch” in each feed bag. Then as they get good true leaves they start looking strong. I’ll choose the biggest healthy ones just snip the others off.
The other raised beds are left over woven house wrap from a siding job. I cut it into 2 foot wide strips and sewed the ends together. Then I drove wooden stakes into the ground to support the corners. Filled with my soil-sawdust-mix. The only thing that cost me anything was the gas to get to the mill. They are so glad to be rid of it. I can haul off all I want. This is amazing! You can literally feed your family .
The reason for the sawdust is compaction and water retention

That is all it takes, but you have to do it !

13 year old girl from New Zealand meets food security problems in Malawi

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/africa/121509546/40-hour-famine-youth-ambassador-sees-what-a-hunger-crisis-means-in-malawi

World Vision 40 Hour Famine Youth Ambassador Alyssa Wilson travelled to Malawi late last year to visit climate vulnerable communities that are struggling to survive as recurring droughts, floods and cyclones wreak havoc on their crops. By shining a spotlight on the Malawi hunger crisis, Alyssa hopes to inspire Kiwis to take action. 

World Vision 40 Hour Famine Youth Ambassador Alyssa Wilson and her friend Yohane

Alyssa WILSON wrote : Before boarding the plane to Malawi, I was anxious. There were so many things running through my head; how do I shake hands, how do I say hello, how do I introduce myself without offending anyone?

I knew I would see and learn things that would make me question the fairness of life, but I honestly didn’t think I’d leave feeling the way I did. I now know just how lucky – yes, lucky – we are to have been born in New Zealand, and most importantly, I now know just how much of an impact each and every single one of us can make if we use what we have around us, and within us. As the last few weeks have shown the world has shifted paces and I feel like this is more important than ever.

Food is something that has always been accessible to me, but for the 71.9 per cent of Malawians who are subsistence farmers who rely entirely on what they can grow to survive, a drought or even flash flooding can be the deciding factor on whether they and their families get to eat – they don’t have a safety net. When the rain comes, it can literally wash away families’ livelihoods. Their crops are their lifeline and without them they just can’t eat.

This really hit home when I met 13-year-old Yohane. On first appearances, Yohane’s just like I was at 13. Yohane loves playing games with his friends, he goes to school every day and has big dreams and hopes for his future. But unlike me, Yohane goes to sleep at night fearful that it might rain. And when it is raining, he physically can’t sleep until it stops. He’s scared it will flood and that his family’s entire crops will be wiped out. It’s their only source of food – they have no other options and no safety net. And having experienced this before, it’s clear Yohane doesn’t want to have to go through it ever again. But he also has hope, hope for himself and hope for his siblings.

I feel so honoured to have met someone so strong-willed like Yohane. But recognising that he and his family, his community and so many others in Malawi are truly at the mercy of the weather is heart breaking.

When it rains, I never feel scared, only inconvenience. I can’t imagine fearing the rain. We’re lucky enough to have stormwater drains and other systems in place to help make sure we’re protected from natural disasters, but Yohane and his family just don’t have these things. They’re at the mercy of the environment, day in and day out. They’re walking the thin line between surviving and famine, day in and day out.

The challenges Malawians are facing might seem overwhelming, but the solutions aren’t. Together, we can, and we will, make a difference. There are things we can do to help, and the 40 Hour Famine is one of them.

Being in Malawi and seeing the work that is already being done here gives me hope. World Vision is working with communities in Malawi to help them adapt to and prepare for extreme weather conditions – and the 40 Hour Famine will continue this work. By taking part, you can help provide schools and farmers with seeds for crops, watering systems as well as goats which provide families with backup income and a food source if their crops fail; things I know will help the people of Malawi build sustainable farming and reduce the impact of climate change on their communities.

I’m not doing the 40 Hour Famine to save the world, or because it’s the right thing to do. I’m doing the 40 Hour Famine for Yohane and all the people of Malawi. I now understand in a way I haven’t before how much impact we have. I feel I don’t have any other option than to act, now – above all else, it’s the choices we make and actions we take that matter.

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MY COMMENT (Prof. Willem Van Cotthem, Ghent University, Belgium)

Very interesting article that may lead to enhanced development aid from New Zealand.

I was focusing on Alyssa’s recommendations on the ways and means “to help them adapt to and prepare for extreme weather conditions” and found :

You can help provide schools and farmers with seeds for crops, watering systems as well as goats which provide families with backup income and a food source if their crops fail“.

I fully agree with her that “SEEDS FOR CROPS“are extremely important (I am the founder of the ‘SEEDS FOR FOOD’ action; https://www.facebook.com/groups/seedsforfood/). The question remains : “How to get an official authorization to send seeds to Malawi“. We will strongly appreciate to get the same green light for sending seeds of vegetables and herbs to our friends of the Malawi-Chitukuko project.

Offering goats to the farmers could be another way to help the Malawian population (see our article ‘Goats for girls’ education“, published on this blog May 11, 2020). However, I was told that the Malawians aren’t very fond of drinking the goats’ milk.

As what concerns ‘providing schools and farmers with watering systems‘, I wonder what that could be.

Our team of the Malawi-Chitukuko project is very much in favour of applying container gardening at the largest scale in Malawi. It is a quite simple and cheap manner to have farmers producing fresh food (vegetables, herbs, fruits) almost all year long in the immediate vicinity of their homes. Moreover, this food production system is not dependent on climatic factors and thus offering a reassuring food security.

I hope our New Zealand friends will agree to adopt an aid strategy in which container gardening has its well deserved place.

An easy way to grow fresh food at home

Fill a number of plastic bags with a moistened mixture of local soil and animal manure or compost. Close the bags and put them horizontally in your garden. Cut a rectangle of the plastic and cover the soil mix in that rectangle with a mulch layer (in this photo wood chips, but a 2-3 cm layer of sand is OK). Choose a vegetable or herb to be grown in these bags. Plant a number of seedlings in the soil mix and water gently. – Photo 97480265_2898915340176608_4693667289021546496_o
Soon the seedlings will be growing into edible plants – Photo 98000613_2898915533509922_1755551496939765760_o

Just recommend every Malawian family to grow zucchinis in a container

Photo Bec Carter – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1807494476058703&set=gm.3383103031734122&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Sow zucchini seeds 7 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) apart, then thin them as they grow. You should keep two to four plants together, because you need both male and female flowers to open at the same time. Zucchini plants hate having their roots disturbed, so if at all possible, plant from seed. It is common for transplanted seedlings to be unhealthy plants.  

Sow zucchini seeds 7 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) apart, then thin them as they grow. You should keep two to four plants together (a group of containers), because you need both male and female flowers to open at the same time for pollination by insects. Zucchini plants hate having their roots disturbed, so if at all possible, plant from seed. It is common for transplanted seedlings to be unhealthy plants.  

New zucchini plants tend to produce a lot of male flowers at first. Once the plants mature a little, they will start setting flowers of both sexes. And thanks to the early male flowers, there already should be plenty of pollinating insects in the area. You can also remove the male flowers and dust their pollen onto the female flowers to help ensure good pollination takes place. 

Zucchini need full sun. Make sure the soil drains well, as they hate soggy feet. Water regularly through the growing season and mulch the soil lightly to aid with reducing water evaporation. Once the vines and leaves bush out, they’ll act as a natural mulch by shading the soil. 

If you like a steady supply, succession planting is the way to go. You should be able to start new zucchini plants two to three times throughout the growing season to have a consistent harvest.

Photo http://www.thejoyblog.net/2015/10/in-my-garden-black-beauty-zucchini.html

Please read : HOW TO GROW BLACK BEAUTY ZUCCHINI – by lana // blog author

What is the best growing season for cassava (manioc, Manihot esculenta) in the Rumphi-Livingstonia area ?

Manihot esculentacommonly called cassavamanioc, is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. Although a perennial plant, cassava is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Cassava is predominantly consumed in boiled form, but substantial quantities are used to extract cassava starch, called tapioca, which is used for food, animal feed, and industrial purposes.

Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain antinutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing much larger amounts.  It must be properly prepared before consumption, as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxicationgoiters, and even ataxia, partial paralysis, or death.

The cassava root is long and tapered, with a firm, homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, about 1 mm thick, rough and brown on the outside. Commercial cultivars can be 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) in diameter at the top, and around 15 to 30 cm (5.9 to 11.8 in) long. A woody vascular bundle runs along the root’s axis. The flesh can be chalk-white or yellowish. Cassava roots are very rich in starch and contain small amounts of calcium (16 mg/100 g), phosphorus (27 mg/100 g), and vitamin C (20.6 mg/100 g). However, they are poor in protein and other nutrients. In contrast, cassava leaves are a good source of protein (rich in lysine), but deficient in the amino acid methionine and possibly tryptophan.

Rudolph Shirima, an IITA researcher with a farmer and her children in a cassava field. Masika (Long rainy season) is the best time to plant cassava in Tanzania

How the right planting season can boost cassava yields

Every farmer wants high yields from their crop to get more income. But, do farmers know the best planting time if they are to reduce losses and maximize returns? Do they also know what happens when they replant stems from the previous cassava crop year after year?

Answers to the questions above can be found in a paper that was published in the scientific journal Plant Disease which shows “Masika” is the best planting season for cassava farmers and seed producers in coastal Tanzania. Masika is the long rainy season which occurs from March to June. Although some farmers plant cassava in Masika, it’s more common for them to plant during the short “Vuli” rainy season, which runs from October to December. The new research shows that there is a much higher degree of infection by cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) in Vuli than in Masika. This is why yields are lower in Vuli and higher in Masika.

Planting cassava during the ‘Masika’ season ensures higher yield than in the ‘Vuli’ season

According to the researchers led by Rudolph Shirima, an IITA plant virologist, “CBSD-causing viruses are transmitted by insects called whiteflies. The viruses causing CBSD are generally referred to as cassava brown streak ipomoviruses. During the Vuli season, cassava plants are infested by higher numbers of whiteflies leading to more virus transmission and higher CBSD incidence, whereas in Masika there are much fewer whiteflies which also means that there is much less CBSD infection. CBSD causes rotting of the tuberous roots, which results in a reduction of marketable yield. So, farmers can maximize their yields by planting in Masika. Conversely, for researchers working to breed resistant varieties, it’s very important to also plant in Vuli as this is when the plants will be challenged most strongly by CBSD.

The Plant Disease study also presents the first evidence for cassava degeneration caused by the cassava brown streak ipomoviruses. Degeneration refers to the increase in CBSD incidence and reduction in marketable root yield over time that results from the repeated planting of stem cuttings sourced from the previous crop. Most smallholder farmers reuse stem cuttings from previous crops for planting in the new season. Recycling planting material in this way can lead to “degeneration” as virus infection increases from one season to the next. In order to study this effect, the researchers compared seven cassava varieties (Chereko, KBH2002_135, Kipusa, Kizimbani, Mkuranga1, Kiroba, and Kikombe) under conditions of high CBSD pressure in Bagamoyo, coastal Tanzania from 2013 to 2017. The experiment was run in both the Masika and Vuli seasons. At the end of the 4-year study period, the most important result was that CBSD infection increased and yields decreased in the susceptible varieties, while there was little change in the performance of the resistant varieties. This confirmed that there is degeneration in cassava in coastal Tanzania resulting from CBSD infection. However, planting season was shown to have a big effect on this phenomenon, as degeneration was more rapid and severe when cassava was planted in the Vuli season compared with Masika plantings. In other words, if a farmer plants cassava in the short rainy season using recycled stems or new ones, the crop will be more severely affected by CBSD and yields will be lower. These results have important practical implications for farmers in coastal Tanzania and elsewhere, and an important next step for the research team will be to develop communication messages so that farmers are made aware of the right season to plant.

The research was carried out by researchers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Tanzania in collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam and Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute.

Imagine you grow these bell peppers in Malawi

Any problems ? No ! Plastic bags filled with a mix of local soil and animal manure or compost. Get bell pepper seeds and let them grow like these ones.

Photo Kashif Shah – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=243238956779446&set=gm.3379057692138656&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Hope our Malawian friends can send us some photos like this one.