Dyson Magombo helps farmers in Malawi gain financial security for the first time in their lives. He travels for hours to teach farmers how to use Xylem’s Saajhi pump. The pump, operated by peddles, enables farmers to easily irrigate crops. Learn Dyson’s tips for how farmers can save water by using plastic sheets.
What is a typical day at work like?
I wake up as early as 2 am, taking a taxi to visit farmers who need my help. It can take me six hours to reach Xylem’s rural customers, on a trip of more than 200 kilometers. I also organize trainings and demonstrations of the Saajhi treadle pump, and meet with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs working with farmers on irrigation projects. Since we make customer service a priority, I routinely arrange surprise visits with our customers in the field to see how they are faring with their pumps.
Apart from the pump training, I also instruct the farmers on how to save labor and water while producing higher crop yields. With flood irrigation, a farmer completely soaks a piece of land, which wastes a lot of water. Most rural farmers operating the Saajhi pumps, however, use furrow flood irrigation.
Plants are laid out in small furrows connected to a central furrow, sloping downwards. I advise the farmers to use locally sourced plastic sheets to directly channel the water, a principle quite similar to drip irrigation. As the furrows fill with water, the plastic sheet is rolled up to the next furrow, and the process is repeated. In this way, farmers can re-use discarded plastic sheets while saving water, a precious limited resource.
What kinds of challenges are your customers facing?
Our customers are challenged with obtaining income and the fundamental necessities of food and water. Compounding these issues is the difficulty of running a sustainable business in areas that are hard to reach. Ultimately, many of our customers and their families have similar goals as you and me, they want their children to get an education and improve their economic position.
How do you help solve these challenges?
Due to the great efforts of Xylem, we have created a product that provides an affordable pathway for individual financial security. By using the Saajhi pump, many of these families can break free from prior economic boundaries and gain a sustainable income for the first time. They can provide revenue for their families, education for their children and broader economic opportunities for their communities. You can learn more about this in our Essence of Life report on the Saajhi pump.
Our partners like Rotary Club International also provide grants to farmers so they can purchase the Saajhi pump at a subsidized rate. Many other farmers buy the pumps with their own savings.
What has been your favorite project at Xylem?
I enjoy interacting with our water customers and especially the local farmers who use the Saajhi pumps. This is the task I like the most. When I receive a call from a customer, regardless of the day of the week, I immediately schedule a visit so they can continue to irrigate their crops. Agriculture is very time sensitive, and our customer’s livelihood is directly tied to our service and product. I believe our total commitment to their satisfaction is what sets Xylem apart.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”- Benjamin Franklin