On the heels of the amazing provision God made for his people during this past hungry season, we are looking to next year and asking some hard questions.
How do we prepare for next year?
How do we keep from getting stuck in relief and move forward to teaching people how to produce enough food on their own?
What are the problems that are keeping people from being able to grow enough food on their own?
We appreciate your prayers as we pursue the answers to these questions.
Meanwhile, on the farm, we are making good progress.
The harvest has begun and Pastor Phiri reports that an amazing crop of corn has been grown on our three farms: the Grace Center, Chipoka and Gwengwe Farms.
For the past 3 years we have been developing our farm land by using sustainable farming techniques.
- We've learned that keeping the ground covered during all seasons keeps the moisture and nutrients in the soil.
- Limited turning of the soil allows the earthworms to create pathways and tunnels for the rain water to soak deep into the soil.
It is our hope that these practices will eventually lead to decreased need for chemical fertilizers on our fields. Demonstrating these techniques for the local community has been part of our training process, but new ideas are hard to take hold. The slash and burn method has been practiced for many years in Malawi and has deep roots that are hard to pull.
We completed our new irrigation system in Chipoka in February this year. The irrigation system at Gwengwe will be finished in the next two weeks. Through the irrigation programs we plan to introduce more vegetables into the children's diets. The typical diet of Malawians is 95% corn with a few green leafy vegetables for vitamins and ground peanuts for protein. Pastor Phiri is currently investigating a local bean that grows during the rainy season to see if we can plant it with irrigation during the dry season!
Our next challenge will be to get people to eat the different foods and to begin diversifying their fields. Most families cannot afford irrigation systems, but if there is food available for sale in the community and if eating can change to embrace new foods and farmers will diversity, farms will begin to produce larger yields.
How can you help?
Pray for our farms to be a testimony of sustainable farming methods. We want people to ask us, "How come your crops look so good?"
Pray for children and adults to try new foods and begin to seek to diversify food in their homes.
Pray for our irrigated farms to be successful. This is a learning curve for us, so we want to be faithful with the gifts we've been given and wise in our stewardship of water, land and resources.
Pray for the people of Malawi.
- Elections will be held in May for a new president.
- Many people who were hungry this year did not have money for food or for fertilizers to put on their fields. So the hunger situation coming up next year could potentially be even worse than this year.
- Poverty is a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult to break. Pray for God, our Father, to break the chains of poverty, to release His resources for His people, to renew the land and restore the nation of Malawi.