By Chris Eccles, Seawater Solutions Environmental Coordinator
What a pleasure it is to be here in Malawi, such a beautiful country with the most hospitable people!
At first glance it might seem odd for a company with “Seawater” in the name to be operating in a landlocked country, however, deep under all that soil are groundwater aquifers used to supply water for farmers, villages and schools, and the reason we’re here is that unfortunately much of that water is saline. This means it has very limited use for agriculture as most plants and crops grown here cannot tolerate the high levels of salt. Much of the soil in these areas is also saline, due to droughts during the rainy season and high temperatures causing evapotranspiration which leaves salt in the top layers of soil. The result of this is that many of the wells are abandoned and large areas of land remain unused.
Our team is out in the field, working with our in-country partners Challenges Malawi, visiting many of the areas which have been affected by these issues and to find out if we can grow our salt tolerant crops in these saline soils and irrigate them using the saline water from the wells. This will turn currently unproductive areas of land into highly-profitable agricultural areas; benefiting the local community by providing them with a climate resilient crop for consumption and an iron nutrient rich component to animal feed.
Here we are taking soil and water samples, which will be analysed by a state-of-the-art laboratory in Blantyre and used to find the worst affected areas. Above salt impacted soils which prevent traditional crops from growing, a storm brews in the background, providing a spectacular lightning show during the evening rains.