Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Back to the field!

View having breakfast
Today I was happy to be back doing interviews in the village. Tiring but very rewarding. Took about an hour or so to get there over some very bumpy roads to the other side of one of the mountains surrounding Zomba. We passed through some really lovely looking places - the terrain was very hilly but quite a few places were growing some good crops and some benefitted quite a bit from water coming down the mountain and also some irrigation projects that had taken place.

There are some pictures here of the really quite remarkable maize being grown now in July, even though the rainfed season goes from around November to May when it's harvested. Thanks to this irrigation project (just a fairly simple system of canals) people in this area will have food during what is known as the "hungry season" later in the year when people's maize stocks start to run out. At least with the fertiliser they have had through the subsidy programme, however, more can be grown than would otherwise.
Irrigated maize

People do still struggle a lot though, like the farmer I interviewed who wasn't selected last year to receive a subsidy coupon. This highlights the tough challenges facing the project and difficult choices that are made by village leaders when deciding who should benefit each year. The lady was elderly and clearly very poor and looked after a number of orphans who's mother had recently died. Unfortunately though, there are limited resources.
Lady tending to the maize field

While in the village we had a few "fritters" for lunch. One of the wealthier ladies in the village who had a nice fence around her house had bought some yeast from the shops and made what were basically like doughnuts - quite sweet and very light and airy. They were pretty tasty and 20 Kwacha each (4 pence each). On the way home we stopped on a hillside where a guy was growing strawberries with the help of some water trickling through his plot of land. We bought a big bag for 500 kwacha (£1) and he was very happy. It's amazing how different people's prospects are simply because they have access to a bit of water.

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