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Work Update

Malawian Aggies Charge into Feb

by
Georgie Scott
Georgie Scott | Jan 28, 2018 | in Agriculture Assessment

 The January Agriculture Assessment Team here in Malawi continued to develop a three-pronged solution to various pains faced by smallholder farmers. Firstly, the farming blueprint would seek to address issues of yield size, consistency of produce throughout the year and nutritional variety of crops. This would be complemented with a consultancy service for ongoing tailored support of the farmers. Finally, a distribution service would seek to alleviate issues of access to markets and provide a means of payment for the blueprint itself.

With this in mind, the following goals have been set for the month ahead:

 

1. Map out 20 supply chains

The January team has made an impressive start in this regard, chasing the original source of produce that can be found in various commercial entities (i.e. supermarkets, hotels). The hope is that by following various supply chains the team would be better able to evaluate the feasibility of injecting ourselves into this supply chain and gage the impact this distribution service could have on the wider community. 

 

2. Conduct 1 test run of distribution service

We will also trial the distribution service by purchasing produce directly from a farmer(s) and then supplying this produce to a local business at a mark-up. The aim here is to further our understanding of the pains of both parties, as well as any areas which may require further research.

 

3. MOU with Bvumbwe Research Station

Bvumbwe Research Station is a government run agricultural research facility that identifies problems faced by farmers and then runs experiments with the aim of alleviating these pains. As part of this work, the station has accumulated a large amount of data relating to the agricultural sector in Blantyre. An MOU with this entity would ideally provide us with access to this data and protect our blueprint IP. This data can then be utilised to revamp the current blueprint, or should the project take another direction, provide extensive foundational knowledge for a new business model.

 

4. Develop 1 alternative solution 

The experimental farm had limited germination in January. The reason for this is not certain, however, there is a strong belief among the leaders and farm workers that this could be due to the two-week dry spell that occurred after the seeds were sown.  As it is now too late in the season to replant (and expect decent germination) we are unable to attempt to rework the blueprint. Thus, we will seek to explore an alternative solution to issues faced by the farmers of Malawi. Personally, I am interested in exploring ways to alleviate issues of lack of access to water – whether this be with an irrigation system or water storage system, as the potential for social impact here is huge.

 

5. Maintain the farm

Nevertheless, we will seek to maintain the farm with weekly visits. Despite the low rates of germination, there is still potential to learn from this experiment. Particularly in relation to issues of pest management and human interference.

 

Stay tuned for what will undoubtedly be an exciting month!

 

 

 

 

 

edited on Jan 28, 2018 by Georgie Scott

Dolly Phiri Feb 7, 2018

Hi Georgie,

So happy to see how much progress is being made with the Ag Assessment! I heard about the dry spell. Is there a way that water can be recycled? Could potentially store the water you use at the house for washing etc and filter it then transport it to plot and water it? This is physically intensive but could be a start. Also consider planting drought-resistant crops like sorghum and millet, these are also Malawian staples although not a fave like nsima but maize does need a lot of water to grow to it's full potential. We also use cassava to make flour for nsima so this could be an option (it needs less water than maize) Alternatively, set up a water tank that will store the water when it does rain and also plant some shading plants so that water does not evaporate so quickly.

In regards to the supply chains, would you be able to keep Fiji in the loop as to where you would fit in as we are currently thinking of forming a farmer's collective so they can sell to hotels but the role of PE in the supply chain is still quite undefined.

Zikomo kwambiri!

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Georgie Scott Feb 8, 2018

Hi Dolly,

More than happy to keep Fiji in the loop re the supply chain.

In regards to how to manage issues of water, we have actually found a government run agricultural office that focuses specifically on irrigation. Moving forward, I will be encouraging my team to get into contact with them to see if we can share said information. What we have learnt from the experimental plot, is that a lot of the research we need already exists - it's just a matter of going out, building rapport, and getting it. Will definitely keep everyone in the loop as to how this goes!

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Dolly Phiri Feb 9, 2018

Awesome! Good luck

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Amber Johnston 11 months ago

Status label added: Work Update

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