Farming in Lilongwe’s rural heartland

One October morning, I tagged along with a farmer, Morut, to his farming establishment in Lilongwe rural. A photo story.

We leave the city very early in the morning. The distance to our first stop is just under 60km. A village north-east of Kasiya trading centre. 

This part of Lilongwe is an important farming area for maize, tobacco and legumes.

Sunrise in a village in Lilongwe rural

The village is quiet. I see a few men huddled around one shop at what looked like the village market. They were probably listening to the radio. I don’t see any women. 

Surprisingly, being a school day, I am seeing many children just milling around. But then again, we left town rather early.

There is also lots of movement of goats and cattle.

Fueling the tractor

We were meeting Morut’s driver to fuel his tractor. The tractor is parked outside the village chief’s house overnight. It has been contracted out to a tobacco merchant to till the land for tobacco contract farmers in the area.

There are no filling stations for miles in both directions, so we have brought some to use for the next couple of days

fueling the tractor

When done with the refuelling, we drive out some 15km past Kasiya trading centre heading to Morut’s farm.

a cow in the road to Malembo in Lilongwe rural

There are lots of cows in the area. I am tempted to crack a few cow jokes but I will spare you the agony.

The tar road ends at the Kasiya trading centre. I understand that the road should have been tarred all the way to the Mchinji road end but the project stalled.

From Kasiya we take narrow dirt roads in the village. Here again, I notice that in certain villages, there are a lot of school-age-going children simply milling around. I am more than sure classes have started at this time of day. Could those younger children go to school later in the day? I really don’t know.

ox cart with firewood
Ox cart with hay at Kasiya trading centre

On the banks of the Bua

The last section of the road before the farm is a very bumpy section across a dry river bed. 

We finally make it onto the farm. It is a 200-hectare estate on the border of Lilongwe and Mchinji districts. Morut grows maize and legumes on most of the land. But other farming activities take place too.

groundnuts under irrigation on Sani Farm

The farm is on the banks of the Bua River. They use water from the river to irrigate their crops.

Right next to the pumping point, there is a narrow gap in the very tall reeds that have now covered the river. A wooden boat shuttles people and goods across the Bua river between Mchinji and Lilongwe.

water pump on the bua river in lilongwe
A boat passage on the Bua River

Vegetable farming

A short distance away is a relatively large vegetable patch. There are tomatoes, onions, green pepper and other crops.

Morut harvests tomatoes from this patch every few days. He sells them in Lilongwe city.


The farm has over a hundred bee hives spread out in its many wood lots. The wood lots provide the perfect place for the bees to thrive.

After checking up on the hives, we head to the farm office. We find a healthy harvest of tomatoes which are loaded and ready for market.

tomatos harvested from the farm

Macadamia pollination

In the afternoon we head southeast into Gala Macs Agriculture‘s Kalokwe macadamia estate. Morut has several bee hives on the estate that are contracted out for pollination services.

He inspects the different sites regularly together with a staff member from the estate.

Bee hives at Gala Kalokwe macademia estate
Gala Kalokwe macademia estate

It is mid-afternoon now. We head out back to town. It has been a long, hot and dusty day. But I have seen and learned a lot.

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