In this season of Harvest, most of us in the UK are not in the fields gathering or gleaning, but with our families and friends, giving thanks for God’s plentiful gifts. As we celebrate and praise God for providing all we need to eat, we also stand with our sisters and brothers in Malawi whose harvests are uncertain.
We stand with Frank, a farmer in Malawi, who was taught a planting calendar by his grandfather based on the regular seasons – but the ever-changing climate means he can’t depend on this knowledge any longer. He used to rely on growing maize to feed his family, but this crop is now unsuited to Malawi and fails easily when the rains don’t come.
When the drought ruined the harvest, Frank’s four-year-old son became critically ill and he had to carry him on foot to the hospital four miles away. Frank was told that his son was severely malnourished.
“It is very pathetic, as a father, to feel helpless like that, to feel like you cannot provide food for your children, and that there is nothing you can do to make them better when they are crying.”
Our partner, the Evangelical Association of Malawi, has been helping Frank and his family to thrive in such hostile conditions. With our support, Frank has successfully grown a special variety of pigeon peas. This remarkable crop is high in protein and its deep roots are ideal for southern Malawi’s dry soil, as it can resist the destructive flash flooding which is on the rise in the country.
Frank has already had a bumper crop of pigeon peas, but he still hasn’t been able to make a profit. Many farmers like Frank work individually and often lack the space to effectively store their peas. This means they have no choice but to sell their harvests to unscrupulous middlemen, traders who buy at farm gates and drive prices down to the lowest level.
With your support, this project will bring farmers together into Farmers’ Clubs, where they will learn vital business skills and work together to plan their planting to ensure a good balance of crops. They’ll learn marketing techniques and new methods for production and storage of pigeon peas, and they will be trained in negotiating fair prices for their crops.
For Frank, this could mean he is able to make a profit – enough to feed his family and even send his four children to school.
Jesus tells us that he has come so that we may have life and have it abundantly. Through giving, acting, and praying this harvest, you will help Frank and farmers like him not just to survive, but to thrive.
Just £10 could pay for a 5kg bag of seeds, enough to plant more than an acre of pigeon peas; £70 could buy a bicycle so that an experienced farmer can reach over 100 farmers in remote areas to teach essential skills; and £500 could set up a Farmers’ Club, a tried and tested way to help a whole community of farmers beat the middlemen and get a fair price for their peas.
To find out more about how you can get involved this harvest, please visit caid.org.uk/harvest.