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Farming and Gardens
During Annie's two weeks in Chimteka She visited Katakumba, one of poorest villages and found there was no food there. She bought 2 sacks of maize seeds, 2 of fertilser and 2 of urea and one of each of these was given to the village of Katakumba for winter planting, the rest to be used for the community garden in Chimteka. She also purchased 10x 50g bags of maize, soya and beans, 80 pkts of sugar, 10 kg of salt and 20 litres of cooking oil for all; Katakumba received 4 bags of each. The pictures show the porridge being cooked after this.
Irene was again sent funds to buy seed for the CBCC gardens.
The food situation was so bad at this point that we had to intervene and send funds to buy maize. See a full report in Nutrition and Food.
Irene bought seed for for the youth to plant in the gardens allotted to feed the Young children (CBCC). However, the rains were late and food is scarce Chimteka, at the moment.
The harvest is well under way, however there have been reports of crops being stolen from people's fields and so farmers are on alert. Meanwhile, food appears plentiful and people are in good spirits.
> Initial work undertaken on SSLLP project design with Francis.This follows the meetings with SSLLP in Chimteka.
Note: SLLP Malawi is a local non-government organisation that provides poor families with the means to combat their poverty in a sustainable and long-term manner. It does this by providing them with various types of livestock, most notably dairy cows but also goats, pigs, chickens, fish and honeybees. Additionally, SSLLP ensures that infrastructure exists in the form of training, extension services, water and sanitation, and community development, to ensure enduring benefits.

Developed Action plan with Agriculture extension staff. Farmers decide to form different farmers groups and start to plan for coming growing season. Many farmers seem to be very interested in Conservation Agriculture but like any new concept they are slightly hesitant and risk averse as it is there livelihood that is on the line. When in groups it is easier for the farmers to request assistance from Government, NGO’s etc. Conservation is no more expensive than traditional cultivation (utilizing ridges) and the labour savings are huge, but for people to take up this new technology they require certain incentives.

The heavy rains have arrived again which is good because we have gone through quite a dry spell at a critical growing time for maize. The advice of an expert on Animal Traction is being sought on possible interventions to increase the levels of farm mechanization within the Chimteka catchment. It is important to act soon as the main period of ploughing and tillage is immediately after the rains in April.

•The yield of maize in the school and community garden and in the local community in general was good; comparable with 2007.
The drying crib constructed by CCS is 3/4 full and it will be interesting to see how much there is when it is transferred in to the silo after shilling and treating.
• The school committee harvested the maize in the school garden supported by CCS. Due to the long distance of the fields to the CBO, 5 trips were made in the CCS vehicle to transport maize back to the silo. The yield is very good even though we were not able to give the crop two dressings of fertilizer due to adverse weather conditions. The school and community maize are stored in the same silo but are being kept separate due to problems of separating the maize in previous years
• CARD-Church Action Relief Development is undertaking training of farmers at the CBO to help improve marketing of maize. Many farmers lose out when maize is purchased by unscrupulous dealers at rock bottom prices. CARD is trying to group farmers together and then identify reliable buyers who are willing to pay a fair price.
• Harvested the beans that we planted in January from the CCS supported community garden, a fairly good crop and the Soya we planted is going to be quite high yielding
•The tree planting program has been completedwith 2500 trees planted before the end of the rains (2100 acacias and 400 pine). The Chimteka II School and Katakungwa CBCC have enthusiastically taken up the opportunity.

Diversification of Food Production
An over dependence on maize as the main source of food in Chimteka, gave rise to the implementationn of a CCS programme of crop diversification.

Between April 16 and May 11, 2009, sixty three farmers received training on:
(1) commercial poultry production (2) vegetable and orchard growing
49 of the 63 participants were male and 14 female.
Each course lasted 10 days and included theory and practice in animal and crop husbandry techniques. The newly developed Chicken Khola with its 120 laying hens was used for practical demonstrations during the training. There was also a practical demonstration of sowing seeds in the field and the extraction of soya milk from soya beans.

Farmers were also trained on harvesting, processing and utilizing garden produce. This will enable them to store and prepare their foods using methods for them to get highest possible nutritional value.

The courses also covered the business aspects of poultry production including record keeping and marketing of eggs, and financing the production using loans.

Tomato, vegetable and maize seed were distributed free of charge.

Some grow ground nuts and bananas but these are sold for cash

Following the training in April and May, one community garden for each Chimteka village was planted in June. These will be monitored on a weekly basis.

It is also proposed to set up community vegetable gardens at the primary schools and health centre serving Chimteka.

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