Lilongwe Malawi … A new electric trike is about to make an impact on farmers in the central region of Malawi. Farming requires multiple activities from field cultivation, to planting, weeding, and harvesting, then to storage and movement to market. Farmers in Malawi face extremely difficult challenges all down the line because of the lack of mechanization. The difficulties begin with cultivation and planting, all done by hand. While western farmers use large mechanical machines, farmers in Malawi use a hand hoe in back-breaking, long hours of field labor. Western farmers transport grain to market in large trucks (or by train), along smooth highways and rail-lines, while farmers in Malawi walk to their destination with their farm produce on their heads. They often must walk many miles (kilometers) from home to market. Only the well-to-do have sufficient resources to send their harvest to market with the use of an ox and oxcart, or donkey trailer. The work is cumbersome and hard, but they have no choice.
Action for Progress is helping the government of Malawi eradicate poverty and one of the major efforts to reach this goal is the introduction of the Joseph Projects**. These are initiatives that help farmers with farm inputs, as well as the modern warehouses to safely store their harvest. Recent bumper harvests reflect impressive outcomes. During the recent harvest period (May to July), farmers ferried their harvest from their farmers to the storehouse. However, this time a new mode of transport is proving its worth. Through the support of the Institute of Affordable Transportation in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Malawi Project, AfP was able to send the first electric trike* to the Joseph Project center in the Dowa District (site # 2) for field tests.
“This is an excellent machine,” said Mr. Santi M’gelezi the lead farmer in the area. “In fact, it’s a vehicle. First, it is very simple to master and use. It is electric so does not need your physical effort to move forward as with a wheelbarrow or regular bicycle. It is not tiresome, as it is just a matter of pressing a button. It is an awesome machine as it runs at an average speed and carries many kilograms of produce at once.”
“Currently 120 farm families have been supplied with fertilizer and improved seed in loans to improve production,” according to Wilson Tembo, Executive Director for Action for Progress. “They have harvested enough food for the next year and have brought their harvest to the warehouse. The new trike is the perfect fit for them since it addresses the transportation gap that has existed for years.”
* The first electric trike to enter the marketplace from the Institute for Affordable Transportation was entrusted to the MP and AfP to conduct field trials and report the value and success of these units. This is the first report of its reception in an emerging world nation.
** The Joseph Project is a group of agricultural support programs carried out by Action for Progress. Farmers are trained in modern agricultural techniques and share a common warehouse to keep their harvest safe. Farm supplies are purchased, and large warehouses are constructed with financial assistance from the Malawi Project. The project focuses on achieving higher crop production and ensuring food security at the household level.