/ 24 January 2008

Are Malawi’s pumps killing farmers’ libido?

Malawi is to probe claims that Indian-made manual irrigation pumps used by the country’s poor farmers kill their sexual desire at night, a senior government official said on Thursday.

”We are going to do a thorough study to determine the problem. We hear reports that men get tired and don’t perform at night,” said the irrigation officer, who identified himself as S Maweru.

Maweru said if the study proved that the imported pumps were a ”health hazard”, the government would be forced to improve on the technology and make the pumps ”user-friendly”.

He did not say how the improvement would come about.

Complaints over the effect of the pumps on the sexual life of their users have been rife in the impoverished Southern African nation in the past two years.

Some observers in Malawi noted that the excessive energy exerted by farmers in operating the irrigation machines during the day could be responsible for their loss of sexual desire at night.

About 100 000 treadle pumps, manufactured in India, have been distributed to poor farmers since the past three years to help irrigate their crops to boost maize production, the staple food in Malawi.

Up to 85% of farming is done by smallholder farmers who grow 80% of the food produced in the country.

Food security is often a pressing issue in the former British colony, where despite a huge fresh-water supply, the fields have little irrigation and most farming remains small scale.

Half of the nation’s 12-million population lives below the poverty line and on less than $1 a day. — Sapa-AFP