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Funding from a charity based on Seil has helped 133 farmers reclaim 306 acres of wasteland in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Malawi farmers in Bemvu in the Ntcheu province are now harvesting maize, groundnut and soya thanks to the Seed for Life Feed for Life Scottish Charitable Incoporated Organisation (SCIO), a sustainable, self-help feeding project run by Dave Alsop, whose day job is a haulage contractor.
Between May and September last year, £16,500 was raised locally and some of that money helped buy seeds and fertilisers to get the small hold farmers started.
The initiative sprung from a partnership in 2011 between Netherlorn Churches and the Bemvu community, helping widows of AIDs victims.
Next month, the SCIO will find out exactly what their efforts helping the remote farmers have reaped.
Mr Alsop said: ‘We are just coming to the end of the harvest. Once the harvest is collected, we will know exactly what we have achieved.
‘These people live from hand to mouth. One man sold the seed he was donated the same day he was given it. He was obviously desperate and wanted to feed his family the following day.’
The project has now become an independent organisation, not formally linked to the church, and is on the Scottish Charity register. More trustees would be welcome, added Mr Alsop.
The farmers in Bemvu are cultivating land that was donated by the tribal chief. They cleared it themselves.
From what they make from the harvest, the farmers give 25 per cent back into funds to replace seed and fertiliser stocks ready for use next autumn to keep the project sustainable.
Another 20 per cent of proceeds is donated to the local primary school to feed 1,200 pupils, making sure they get a daily meal, and the final 55 per cent goes to the farmer for their labour.
‘It’s very exciting,’ said Mr Alsop. ‘It’s our first year. We are hoping to get grant funding but we are are waiting first to get results from this year’s harvest so we can submit proper figures.’
Anyone interested in helping SCIO fight food-poverty should contact Mr Alsop on 01852 300393.