The sun was rising over the flat Sakata region as I rocked back and forth in the Land Cruiser, swerving to avoid bumps and pot holes on the dusty roads winding through the villages. Wellings Mwalabu and I were heading to meet the TA, Traditional Authority, chief of chiefs to discuss the construction of the secondary school. This is the dry season and dust hangs in the air. Everything is dry, brown and brittle.
As we pass VIP’s solar irrigation field, a sudden bright green opens along the dusty road. There, in the fields, VIP farmers were already at work in their designated plots of land, irrigating, weeding, spreading compost, and covering crops with maize stalks to preserve moisture. I pulled to the side of the road to get out and hear updates from the farmers. Always greeted with waves, smiles and warmth, each one shared how well this year of irrigation is going.
They have diversified their crops, growing tomatoes, onions, maize and they expect high yields. One told me that last year she was able to pay her daughter’s school fees, another told me she was able to purchase needed food and supplies for the home. They are all looking forward to this year’s second harvest, something unheard of in a land where it only rains from December to March. Slowly, they are becoming independent and are thriving.