Container gardening to create food security in the drylands (P.H. DIMUSA – Malawi / W. Van Cotthem)

Today I received a short report from Patrick Harry DIMUSA on his first efforts to launch container gardening in his home country Malawi.  Patrick studied in Ghent (Belgium) in 2007.  Before returning to his country he visited me to get some advice on technologies and methods to improve plant production in Malawi.

We discussed the advantages of :

1. Soil improvement by applying a water- and fertilizer absorbing soil conditioner.
2. Participation in our Seeds for Food project.
3. Container gardening to produce vegetables and other food crops in bottles, plastic bags, pots, etc.

Once back home, Patrick started a small-scale container gardening project in his own village, also using the seeds he received in Belgium (donated by many people of Western Europe).

Here is his first report on the results of his magnificent initiative :

“Dear Professor Willem,

First I would like to thank you for introducing me to “container gardening”.  To say frankly, the initiative impressed me and after my arrival back home, I formed an NGO by the name of “Future of Malawi (FOM)”.  The objectives of that organisation are to contribute in the fight against hunger, desertification and poverty in Malawi.

I remember well your advice that it is better to target children in this project, because they are the future leaders of tomorrow.  That is why FOM is working with children on most of its activities.  Most of the container gardening sensitization is done in the schools surrounding my village, which is the central location of my project.

Ever since I started this action I never received any funding.  Most of the money for the organization of activities comes from my pocket.  I did it because I believe in hard work and in the fact that everything that starts small can become big.

Currently, I am planning to buy some land to construct an “education centre” or a “demonstration centre” for the project.  To my site I take container gardening as the only possible rescue for poor countries like Malawi, because it can be started on a low budget.  Moreover, it helps to keep the environment clean by collecting useless plastic bottles and plastic bags, which are massively polluting nature.  Growing seedlings of trees contributes to the reforestation of our country.

As the founder of this project I am facing a lot of challenges to keep it going forward, due to financial constraints.  Therefore, let me take this opportunity to ask all well-wishers to support me.

Please show my pictures to the visitors of your website.

May God bless you and your wife.

With lots of love,

Patrick Harry DIMUSA

c/o Martha Harry
Theatre for Change
British Council
P.O. Box 30222
LILONGWE 3 – Malawi

2007-12 : Returning home from Belgium Patrick Harry immediately started planting flowering plants at his project site in Piyasani village.
2007-12 : Returning home from Belgium Patrick Harry immediately started planting flowering plants at his project site in Piyasani village.
2007-12 : Patrick Harry preparing his first bottles and other containers.
2007-12 : Patrick Harry preparing his first bottles and other containers.
2008-01 - With a friend learning the container gardening technique at the project site.
2008-01 – With a friend learning the container gardening technique at the project site.2009-03 – The “Future of Malawi” kids club after a football match in Piyasani village.
2009-03 - The "Future of Malawi" kids club after a football match in Piyasani village.
2009-03 – The “Future of Malawi” kids club after a football match in Piyasani village.
2009 - Chrispin and his little brother showing tomatoes and other vegetables growing in containers with a minimum of irrigation water.  With container gardening a lot of water is saved for other purposes (no infiltration in the dry soil, less evaporation from the plastic bags).
2009 – Chrispin and his little brother showing tomatoes and other vegetables growing in containers with a minimum of irrigation water. With container gardening a lot of water is saved for other purposes (no infiltration in the dry soil, less evaporation from the plastic bags).
2009 - Etala is a member of the FOM Kids Club who learned the technique of container gardening.  Kids  love to do a lot of work in the garden at the projet site and later they will set up their own garden at home.
2009 – Etala is a member of the FOM Kids Club who learned the technique of container gardening. Kids love to do a lot of work in the garden at the projet site and later they will set up their own garden at home.
2009 - Patrick Harry with some members of the FOM Kids Club showing spinach plants growing splendidly in plastic bags.  Drought has no effect on plant growth, because the substrate in the bags is kept humid with only a bit of irrigation from time to time.
2009 – Patrick Harry with some members of the FOM Kids Club showing spinach plants growing splendidly in plastic bags. Drought has no effect on plant growth, because the substrate in the bags is kept humid with only a bit of irrigation from time to time.
2009 - Players of the FOM kids football team are happy to show vegetables grown in containers.  No difficulties whatsoever with poor water retention in the local garden soil were encountered.
2009 – Players of the FOM kids football team are happy to show vegetables grown in containers. No difficulties whatsoever with poor water retention in the local garden soil were encountered.
2009 - Isaac, another member of the FOM KC, taking good care of the maize grown in plastic bags.
2009 – Isaac, another member of the FOM KC, taking good care of the maize grown in plastic bags.
2009 - Tibo, Patrick Harry's son, with some of his friends, proudly showing different vegetables grown at the container gardening project site.
2009 – Tibo, Patrick Harry’s son, with some of his friends, proudly showing different vegetables grown at the container gardening project site.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.