Firstly let's start by listing every other farm animal that followed Funa the goat... It was the chicken, the pig, the cow, the sheep and even the guinea fowl. If fish had legs, Malawi is the place where we would let them regularly cross the road freely without reason or infringement. In fact the ‘law’ (street, village and other) stipulates in several of our districts that, if you should happen to end the life of one of these roaming farm creatures, you must be prepared to pay a fine to cover the death by vehicle. It’s usually an open and shut case with you being the no reprieve criminal offender. Almost as though you, the driver, was party to converting roads to their current state as unpredictable driving fields. Or maybe you were because actually the animals in the road issue, isn't exactly an issue to everyone. However, if you have read this far, we probably have a few similar points of view. Let's kick off with our three initial observations on the matter. A. Yes this is an issue; B. It's more than a matter of road safety; And C. We can do better. Imagine if our ancestors from 100 years ago visited us today with all our mobile phones and solar lights. Then while taking a scenic drive to Salima, explaining how we the people harnessed the power of the sun. We abruptly skid to a holt in our chromed out air conditioned car to let a road pasture goat feed on the toasty road rubbish. In 2018. Here today where we have 'cinemas' in many hip townships side by side with many mobile money options in shiny aluminum kiosks, and we cannot forget, the whole entire internet for a world of random options. Road pastures are not real people! Our best bet at decreased embarrassment would be hoping they won't be visiting any other countries on their trip from the past. And that you made sure every passenger in your shiny car was wearing their seatbelt!
It's quite a shame, considering this small thing that we overlook daily creates two issues we as people from the year 2018 should not be dealing with ideally. Firstly the issue of the frustrated, “Why”? We should never have to wonder unless roaming through remote inner landscape paths, if a rouge goat might just hop out of the distant bush at any moment. We shouldn't have to ask why there are so many goats, or sheep, or chicken or any other edibles! We should instead be oblivious of that fact and chalk up the new generation of protein strong youth to the idea that rural life obviously includes a rich 'organic' diet. The abundance of livestock should be a rural life secret weapon to eternal strength. Alas, we instead continue to watch the soon to be chiwaya (Traditional street food) eating all sorts of road side and road central trash and, very regularly, eating whatever was left in the discarded little blue plastic bags, AND the plastic bags themselves as desert.
Always think, we are what we eat. It’s true and it’s a good starting point for valuing what we eat and how we take care of what we plan on eating. GGEM Farming is mostly concerned about why we are no longer looking after our assets with more positive intent and good old fashioned pride?
It’s too early for us to theorize on the exact reason why, so we decided to focus on the “if” instead. If more animals were actually kept off the road what new possibilities would that create? Firstly. Thousands of Malawian animal owners do not use manure. This is a crazy fact that makes a lot of sense while it simultaneously makes no sense at all. Manure is a byproduct of waste created by collecting the rich remains of animal droppings. Let me emphasize the word RICH. These droppings can be value added using extremely simple techniques such as soaking pellets in water and using the liquid to fertilize your plants. You can use an even simpler methods that requires a ratio of pellets and other green and brown flora matter to break down over time, creating an incredibly healthy food for your plants and what it mainly costs is effort. So how do we apply this effort? We start by penning our animals, yes, even during the day. This allows us to achieve more than one positive effect. We can account for all our livestock, they are safer where we can see and control them. We can control what they eat. The less junk our livestock eat the healthier your flocks and herds will become. We also get the chance to control the damage they can do to other people's crops and cars. Most importantly we don't waste away tones of useful matter annually because we have been too otherwise engaged, to apply simple methods to control and multiply our assets.
Wouldn't Malawi look better with more things in their rightful place? The more animals we get out of our roads, the more appropriate use we can make of them. They become less of Malawi’s street features, and more of thriving farming family assets. We even call them a more respectable name when they belong to that group. They gain rank in the Agriculture world and elevate to livestock! This of cause comes with some commitment and new behaviors by us, the people. Tying your goat using a stretch of multi coloured rope does not count as the required penning. That sort of measure is not consistent with treating the animals we have a responsibility for. Instead, invest in an above ground pens for smaller animals, and let them roam freely in expanses of greenery under supervision, to stretch their legs and become tastier from living happy lives. This is also a great after school task for your children, much like what we all had to endure during kumudzi (village) holidays back in the day. To go along with the penning we also have to silage or bail grass and greenery for the dryer months. Both activities simply refer to collecting the grasses and so on, and keeping them for later. If you have pastures to work with, even better. Rotating and maintaining these pastures will allow you to easily feed your grazers all year round. The solutions to removing your livestock from the literally lean streets of Malawi are there. You will find them if you are actively looking; after all, any change favours those that want for it. In short, we conclude that, Funa the goat and the chicken, the pig, the cow, the sheep and even the guinea fowl are all crossing every road in every part of Malawi, because they got lost trying to get back to a life where we as a people took care of our livestock with care, curtesy and pride.
For more potential agricultural solutions and answers to Malawi’s pressing agri-questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.