Saturday, August 1, 2009


This is Mr Nyirenda, my counterpart. He is an agricultural extension agent and speaks good English which is one reason I am not learning Chichewa very fast. He is hard working and effective and we get along well. He wants to come with me to the US when I return, for a visit, if he can find the money for the airfare.

The great bee adventure! Mr Mtanda is looking at two bee hives on his property. On the left is a Malawi standard hive with frames which make it easy to inspect and harvest honey with minimum disturbance to the bees. On the right, at the top of his head, is a local hive made from bark peeled off a tree, which kills the tree. It is also difficult to inspect or harvest honey without a lot of damage.

Here I am in my bee suit. The top is velcroed to the suit and you must depend on someone els to stick it on properly with no gaps. Unfortunately mine had a gap and after about 15 minutes 20-25 very angry bees found their way in. I stayed calm and walked in a zig-zag pattern through the bush to brush the ones off the outside. At first the one inside didn't sting - then one did and they all followed suite. I finally got them out after about 20 stings on my ears and head - what excitement! I took a Benedryl right away and fortunately did not swell up much at all. The next day the bites itched a little but I came out pretty good considering.

Mr Mtanda is taking out some honey comb from the local bark hive. We made two mistakes. One was working the bees mid-day when it was hot and the other was he used fire instead of smoke. Smoke calms bees but fire just makes them really mad!

Mr Mkwapatila and his wife with jars of honey he harvested.

Here is our irrigated tiligu (wheat) project. About 6 acres. The amount of hand work that goes into forming the beds and ditches and planting is amazing. By using irrigation they can grow a crop in the off season for extra income. It will be harvested by hand with small sickles and threshed by beating with sticks. I hope to make a simple bicycle powered drum thresher to make the job easier.

Mr Nyirenda and I inspecting one of the fish ponds. There are almost 60 around here but they haven't been properly maintained. We hope to change that with training.

Mr Joshua Banda, agriculture extension agent in the area next to ours. We work with him sometimes.

Inspecting mustard in a dimba which means a wet garden. These are in low, swampy areas and are used to grow vegetables during the dry season.

Kids applying compost to a mustard bed.



Even though it is just little bits of electricity flying through the ether the contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps.