Malawi's Harvest of Hope

Change is happening in Malawi. Agricultural production has taken a dramatic turn, from famine in 2005 to food surpluses in 2007, resulting in Malawi being able to export food to Zimbabwe. This reversal has been described as a "miracle," and other African nations are now seeking to mirror Malawi's example.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika is credited for leading the nation on the path to greater farm output. Mutharika plans to continue the government's focus on assisting smallholder farmers, particularly women, and recommends that new international partnerships focus on this objective as well.

"The new partnerships should seriously consider introducing subsidies for African smallholder farmers, especially women, to enable them to produce beyond subsistence." — Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika

There is still more work to be done for smallholder farmers both in Malawi and elsewhere in Africa. Planet Aid has joined the effort and is assisting African farmers in increasing sustainable crop production and raising their income. We have been supporting these farmers through a program known as Farmers' Clubs. The program focuses on organizing local producers for the purpose of sharing information and providing training in basic knowledge about sustainable farming. It creates momentum within rural communities toward positive productive change that decreases poverty and increases food security.

More than 12,000 farmers in Malawi have participated in Farmers' Clubs since 2006, and more than half (nearly 8,000) of these participants were women. The program has been operating in the districts of Chiradzulu, Zomba, Lilongwe, and Dowa. An independent evaluation conducted in 2009 showed that the program increased average production by 250%, annual cash income by 120%, and access to irrigation by 280%.

This harvest of hope in Malawi resonates on the eve of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Like the Plymouth colonists centuries ago, the Malawians — with a little help from their friends — have succeeded in turning their food security situation around. Planet Aid is working to expand the model of Farmers' Clubs across the entire nation, and is seeking support in that effort so that more may share in the bounty.