© 2012 AID AFRICA  UK Registered Charity Number 1116336

Serving the most vulnerable      in rural Malawi

Winter Report 2014

including July-October trip



The Agri-dept has worked hard to improve results, despite many climatic challenges, especially the shortage of local water at our land in Makhonja Village. This has meant ferrying in water —usually on pushbikes, in the battle to keep the crops viable.

We’ve prioritised crops and land use—with moringa at the top of the list on both sites. Our team have raised the moringa beds to help retain water in the dry season, and minimise flash flooding when the rains do come. They’ve spread mulch and dried plant residue over the beds to cool, stabilise, retain moisture and nourish the soil.

Moringa growth is progressing slowly but steadily as more trees are established in this difficult environment. The resulting powdered food supplement has been issued to the AIDS-affected and included in the likuni phala for toddlers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those on ARV’s (AIDS treatment) are finding that the side-effects of the medication are decreased—particularly skin rashes and joint pain—and families of the children on our phala programme report that the children seem less susceptible to illness and are gaining strength.

Growing adequate moringa to meet the increasing demand is a challenge, but we will keep working on improving our production of this valuable crop.

Ethiopian Mustard is an indigenous vegetable that we’re assisting the authorities to reintroduce, cassava and sweet potato are also grown for seed multiplication, and vegetables—mustard, tomatoes, onions and aubergines are still grown to give to the vulnerable.

Dickson - “Farming God’s Way”  Malawian trainer—visited site to train, encourage and assess progress in farmers’ fields.  He was delighted with the active interest and dedication of the local farmers, and the increasing confidence of our staff.

Over 100 farmers attended the 2-day event, both in our Training Hall and practically in the field. Our team will advise and follow-up.

Building capacity into our 17 Malawian staff—increasing their skill levels and abilities—is important as we develop the vision of Malawians ministering to Malawians, without the picture being muddied by “rich” white people. Our role is mentoring, encouraging and empowering these guys to take responsibility for managing the projects well and developing an active problem-solving concern for their communities.


Our dairy goats are OK—milk production has risen with new kids

being born.  However, we’ve only had 3 female kids recently, and

so may be short of breeding capacity in the future.  We’ve moved

on all but 2 of the male kids, placing these young bucks strategically

in various locations to help stock improvement in each area.


Following a recommendation by our visiting vets, Gary & Bethany, earlier in the year, we’ve built an inner wall separating the rocky—otherwise unusable—area on site, from the more productive garden areas, and opened access from the female goat complex. The does can now wander across a much larger area, browsing, and climbing. This should improve their health and quality of life, and seems to have already increased the milk yield.


Staff on site continue to struggle to find enough greenstuff during the dry season, to feed the rabbits in our 25 hutches, but moving on 30 kittens via the rabbinga project helped.

Numbers are now back down to our breeding does, stud stock, and a few extra males which will be distributed with the next wave of Rabbinga.

Ideally, in this Programme, establishing 10 kholas (plus pass-ons) should be repeated every three months, but that’s a bit unrealistic in these early days. We had a period when all the does refused mating, possibly due to the extreme weather, but the latest news is most are now pregnant with kits due Nov/Dec, so the offspring should be weaned and ready for circulation in early March 2015. By then 10 more beneficiaries will have been selected, trained and kholas built, ready to receive their rabbits and moringa seedlings.


Once again we had building teams on site for most of the trip. We try to employ as many as possible—it’s all food on their tables, earned with the dignity of hard work! This time they were raising up the security wall in vulnerable places, setting broken glass on top, and we built the inner goat wall to create the “rock paddock” with smaller paddocks for the bucks.

We cut into the Small Hall adding a window to convert to a classroom to house the computers and IT training.

The wooden 6-hutch block in the main rabbitry was refurbished, and the bamboo khola— possibly a prototype for community kholas—was modified in the field to combine with brick.

Water from the Khuluzulu River (original tapped supply) ran out due to the dry season, leaving the site without water supply.  But when the pipeline and tap from the Phala River was fitted we topped up the tanks with hoses so kept the houses on limited running water, and the site operating with one central standpipe.

Fitting electrics was a major task, taking mains electricity (Escom) from Training Hall to Processing Unit and solar from PU to the Hall. Escom supply was erratic, leaving us without power for huge chunks of many days, but thankfully the fridge/freezer is now powered by solar, so the vet. meds. and milk were safe.

Agri Priorities

Moringa—for community health

Forage—food for our livestock

Seed multiplication—to empower local subsistence  farmers to grow their own crops

Moringa—a tree with leaves packed with protein, calcium, iron, potassium, & vitamins that we’re harvesting and processing into a nutrient-rich food supplement for the malnourished.


FGW Agri-Training

All enjoyed the lunch provided too!

Dickson teaching local subsistence farmers in our Training Hall

The guys were enthusiastic, teachable and responsive and are still trying to extend their knowledge and skills. They learned how to present reports on both Word & Excel, gained a lot of confidence and were delighted to receive certificates of accomplishment!

One area that we’re keen to promote is training—FGW is a regular agricultural teaching forum, but this year we’ve also introduced computer training to 7 of our english-speaking staff.  UK supporters, Ian & Jude, visited our Centre for a week and held basic sessions in our newly-fitted-out classroom.


Maintenance & Utilities

We took the remarkable film about the life of Jesus out to 4 villages. We were out in the open, with a bed-sheet for a screen, but hundreds watched, many responded to the message of new life, and lots were healed and encouraged.

We gave out knitted goods hand crafted by supporters in the UK, reading glasses & babies bottles donated through the shop. We provided emergency food, hospital transport, bicycle repairs, plastic sheeting for roofing repairs, funeral expenses, and funded transport for medical and education appointments.

Thank you for your support!!!

The final kids born this year—a male

and a female, from Cassie, one of the

goats from South Africa, by Sargeant, our saanen stud—were very promising.  We planned to keep both if they grew well, the male (Caspar) will hopefully become our co-stud of the future. However, sadly we lost the female, she developed pneumonia and we were unable to save her despite treating with antibiotics, underlining the frustrating challenges of lack of effective veterinary care in the impoverished rural areas.

Good News!

Other activities

Next steps—2015

The moringa section of the Processing Unit still needs finishing & equipping - electrics/plumbing, plastering walls & floors, glazing windows & painting.  By the end of 2015 we anticipate construction on site to be complete depending on resources, personnel and time.

A reliable, robust, economical to run, all-terrain vehicle is high on our wish list!  The BUV—in concept—is brilliant, but mechanically it’s been disappointing.  However, there’s a new version now available in Malawi—a 3-wheeled motorbike with a 700 kg load bed—just what we need!

Receiving  mustard

One interesting observation from Dickson was that he could see the respect the local community has for AA/OHP as 13 Chiefs turned up for the training in addition to the 112 enthusiastic farmers invited!

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Next- news Jan 2015