Smallholder farmers in Malawi are growing fertilizer trees on their farms to improve food production

Malawi farmer in his maize field intercropped with fertilizer trees. Photo: Mark Ndipita/ICRAF
Malawi farmer in his maize field intercropped with fertilizer trees. Photo: Mark Ndipita/ICRAF

The adoption of fertilizer trees on farms is a simple and effective way to improve soil fertility, food productivity and therefore contribute to food security. Yet, there is still little empirical research that documents the impact of fertilizer trees on food security among smallholder farmer households. Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre carried out a study in Malawi to analyze the impact of the adoption of fertilizer trees on food security among smallholder farmers

Reblogged from the Agroforestry World Blog. Read the full article here→

Farmer Field Day training in Malawi

Salima Rice Field Day 021On Tuesday, June 3rd, Land O’Lakes held another in a series of Farmer Field Day training events at one of their signature Answer Plot® sites, known locally as Yankho Plot™ sites in Malawi.  This farmer training event was held in Salima district, Malawi, on a plot planted with several varieties of rice.  On this day, farmers got to see Kilombero and Funwe rice plants right before harvest and to hear from Lead Farmers (who had been trained by Land O’Lakes staff) and Ministry of Agriculture field extension agents, all about the characteristics of these two new strains of these two rice varieties.  In addition, farmers were taken through rice trials done on site in collaboration with the GOM Ministry of Agriculture, the CCARDESA (Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for South Africa) and the World Bank.  Under this USDA-funded Food for progress project, Land O’Lakes uses the Yankho Plot™ sites as learning platforms where complementary information is given out about goat production, animal welfare, best animal feed practices and animal health.  In addition, Land O’Lakes nutrition staff work hand-in-hand with MOA Nutritionists and staff from the GOM Ministry of Health to share nutritional information and to conduct cooking demonstrations for all farmer field day participants.  At this special field day event, more than 150 USDA-funded Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) handbooks were distributed by Land O’Lakes to the female heads of community-based Nutrition Groups in order to assist with their community education efforts.  Land O’Lakes also invited many agricultural suppliers and service organizations in order to facilitate farmers networking with other sources of information, services and products.  For example, Demeter Agriculture Limited and CABI Plantwise had tables on which they displayed their helpful information and where staff were ready to talk about their services for helping farmers be better producers.  More than 350 male and female farmers from Salima District participated in the Farmer Field Day training event.

Update: Plant Health News (25 Feb 15)

Uganda are considering use of GM bananas resistant to Xanthomonas wilt © Pascale Lepoint / Bioversity International
Uganda are considering use of GM bananas resistant to Xanthomonas wilt © Pascale Lepoint / Bioversity International

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the Giant African land snails invading Cuba, the debate over GM bananas in Uganda and a new report from the World Food Programme on connecting farmers to markets.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: Plant Health News (15 Jan 15)

Maize is a staple crop in Malawi but farmers have been told to diversify © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)
Maize is a staple crop in Malawi but farmers have been advised to diversify © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Crops in Brazil still suffering after last year’s drought, the Malawi farmers advised to diversify their crops and the gene that affects nitrogen fixation and yield of soybean.

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Plantwise Malawi Officially Launched

Contributed by Roger Day and Noah Phiri, CABI in Africa

Top national agricultural officials and CABI representatives gathered in Malawi recently to officially kick-off Plantwise operations, marking a new chapter for plant health development in the country.

With one small snip, Dr Wilfred Lipita cut the ribbon to officially launch the programme. Dr Lipita is the Controller of Agricultural Extension and Technical Services in Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and was representing the Minister, Dr James Munthali.

Earlier this year, Dr Lipita opened the very first plant clinic in Malawi. Since that pilot clinic, 12 more have been established in Mzimba and Lilongwe Districts, where trained plant doctors tend to farmers’ sick plants and help them to prevent their crop losses. Commending the Plantwise approach, Dr Lipita said at the launch event that “Plantwise could have helped us avoid the devastation caused by Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV).”  

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Photo of the Month, October 2013 – Idyllic location for training in Malawi

Data management training participants at Lake Malawi
Participants during the plant clinic data management training held at the Mpatsa Lodge Salima by Lake Malawi from 16th to 17th September, 2013 © CABI

Plantwise was launched in Malawi in May 2013 after vigorous training of plant doctors in crop pest identification and how to give recommendations based on the identified pest problem. In the 14 plant clinics widespread in Lilongwe and Mzimba, there was need to understand the role that the plant clinic data will play in the national Plant Health System. Plant clinic data management training was carried out for the eight participants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Extension and Crop Development departments and World Vision who are directly involved in the supervision of plant clinic data collection and use. Continue reading

Agroecology – benefiting farmers around the world

Farmers is Malawi are realising the benefits of acroecology © CIMMYT ( CC BY-NC-SA licence)
Farmers in Malawi are realising the benefits of acroecology © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA licence)

This week, the UK Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, David Heath, has announced his support for the use of agroecological farming methods which are seen as the foundation of sustainable agriculture. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology (IAASTD) define agroecology as “the science and practice of applying ecological concepts and principles to the study, design and management of sustainable agroecosystems”. In practice, this means simulating natural ecosystems and using low inputs to increase productivity.

In 2011 the UN reported that by using agroecological methods, projects carried out in 20 different African countries were able to double crop yields in 3-10 years. The projects also recorded a reduction in the use of pesticides, leading to savings for the farmers. The agroecological approach has multiple benefits, beyond these economic gains. It also takes into account social and environmental issues, including soil fertility, water availability and climate change.  Continue reading