Food aid project hopes for New Year funding

Dave Alsop with Seil Sound and the choir leader Maggie Thorpe at Sunday's fundraiser.

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A Seil-based feed for life project working in Malawi is hoping the New Year will bring news of £60,000 funding.

The Seed For Life. Feed for life project has been helping Bemvu farmers in  the Ntcheu province reclaim hundreds of acres of wasteland by providing them with seeds to grow crops.

A bid for Scottish Government funding has gone in and a decision should be made early next year, said Dave Alsop who runs the project with the help of trustees and supporters. The funds would be spread over three years and mean ‘a huge expansion for us’ added Mr Alsop.

‘It would get us to the end to get them self-sustaining and so they are not reliant on outside funding to feed themselves. At that point, we may start looking at other projects after that – possibly bringing in electricity, there’s only one pump in the village with water,’ he said.

Since it began in 2017, the Scottish Charitable Incorporated organisation (SCIO) has sent more than £16,5000 to help buy seeds and fertilisers to get small-holder farmers started and become self-sustainable.

It started out of a partnership  project going back to 2011 between Netherlorn churches and the Bemvu community, helping widows of AIDs victims.

Little rain in December and January this year made growing conditions difficult but more than 65 tonnes of extra maize was  harvested which the people of Bemvu would not have had without the project which Mr Alsop said was a ‘great result.’

First year groundnut and soya crops were not so productive so the scheme is now working with ten farmers in different areas to try and find out why there was a problem and to discover the best growing area. The SCIO had to send out extra funds to get the finished product at the lowest price to complement the maize harvest.

Through the project, Seed For Life is also feeding between 1,300 and 1,400 school children a day.

‘The children have sussed if they go to school they get a meal every day. It’s a win, win situation. They get fed and they get a basic education,’ said Mr Alsop.

Earlier this year two of the SCIO’s representatives went out to visit for two weeks to see the work being achieved first hand. The SCIO will also be sending out £1,000 in January for a tree planting programme which will eventually help provide fruit and fuel.

The next field crops will be harvested around April or May 2019.

‘We are making a tremendous difference over in Malawi. Now we have started we cannot let our friends down. Please continue to support all our attempts to raise funds for this very worthy cause which is seeing results.’

On Sunday, Seil Sound community singers organised an afternoon of festive music and words in the community hall in aid of the project. Balvicar Stores also donated a Christmas tree, kindly decorated by Homebase Oban, which was auctioned off at the event. The total raised by the afternoon was £600.

Anyone interested in giving support should go to seedforlife.org.uk for details on how to make a donation.