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Agroforestry and Conservation Agriculture for Malawi Food Security

Phalula Group Village, Malawi
Jo Thomas (UK/Malawi, ) Sustainable Livelihoods Programme Coordinator, Malawi for Concern Universal, and Marina France (US) Rights and Resources Group, began developing a food insecurity project in May in the Phalula Group Village in Malawi. 770 families of the Phalula Group Village face food insecurity as a result of land degradation/soil erosion/declining soil fertility, as well as climate change related unreliable rainfall patterns.

Sustainable: mono culture maize?

They discovered several very interesting background papers to help developed their program designs:

ICRAF: Farming Trees, Banishing Hunger
IFPRI: Micro-level Practices to Adapt to Climate Change for African Small-scale Farmer
IFPRI: Are Soil and Water Conservation Technologies a Buffer Against Production Risk in the Face of Climate Change?

A woman in the village grinding maize

After a thorough literature review and discussions with colleagues they developed their project using two compatible programs--a conservation agriculture program and agroforestry income generation program.

Their agroforestry income generation program looks first at identifying markets before choosing agricultural products to plant.

Agroforestry Income Generation Program [Solution to underlying causes: Declining soil fertility and lack of income generation opportunities]:
[Activity 1]. Introduction of VNRMC members to agroforestry concepts
[Activity 2]. Survey local/regional businesses that buy and sell agroforestry agricultural produce in order to determine products they need on a routine basis
[Activity 3]. Establish a market link and ask the businesses for their help in training programs for farmers to grow the products they need
[Activity 4]. Using this input, launch training workshops on improved agroforestry/agricultural practices for these new crops
[Activity 5]. Deliver seeds
[Activity 6]. Establishment of village tree nursery

Their conservation agriculture program places importance on collecting traditional knowledge and on establishing pilot plots for the demonstration of improved cultivation practices:

Conservation Agriculture
[Solution to underlying cause: soil erosion & land degradation and Climate Change related unreliable rainfall patterns]
[Activity 1]: Surveys and interviews to collect traditional knowledge on agriculture, changes in agricultural cycles, vulnerabilities and coping strategies
[Activity 2]: Develop plan that combines resilient and improved agricultural techniques with traditional knowledge for an overall improvement in productivity
[Activity 3]: Establish pilot plots demonstrating better cultivation practices (probably in community land)
[Activity 4]: Farmer workshops on soil restoration and conservation techniques
[Activity 5]: Farmer workshops on water conservation and management techniques

Download their report and project outline here:
Needs assessment with photos
Solution Oriented Project Outline

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Tim Magee, Executive Director
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The Center for Sustainable Development specializes in providing sound, evidence-based information, tools and training for humanitarian development professionals worldwide. CSDi is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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