A group of farmers in Ntcheu district, Central Malawi, have clubbed together to fund the first purpose-built permanent plant clinic to help fight a range of crop-devastating pests and diseases that threaten their livelihoods and food security.
Pengapenga Plant Clinic, which previously operated under a tree in the market place, is now providing a more attractive and fit-for-purpose brick structure which is giving the 1,000 smallholder farmers it serves shelter from the rain.
Kanyumbu village is a compact rural farming village in Lilongwe district in Malawi. Farmers in this village mostly produce maize, beans, and mangoes from a few trees scattered in their fields. In 2013, they received a new service from the Department of Agriculture; a plant clinic, with a plant doctor. They were informed that they could present any crop affected by pests and diseases, or that was simply ‘not looking normal’. The plant doctor could examine the crop samples, diagnose the problem and tell them what was ailing their crops. On the spot, the plant doctor could provide advice on how to manage the crop pests and problems.
Smallholder farmers provide the vast majority of the world’s food supply, and ‘small-scale farming’ is the largest occupation group of economically active people, 43% of which are women.
Approximately 2 billion of the world’s poorest live in households that depend on agriculture in some form for their livelihoods, whether this is for market or subsistence. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that growth in agriculture in developing countries is on average almost 3 times more effective in reducing poverty (relative to non-agriculture GDP growth).
A recent study led by CABI and published in International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, explores how communication and its technical content shape farmers’ response to advice delivered at plant clinics. How willing were farmers to accept or reject the technologies recommended at plant clinic consultations? And what were the reasons? The research was carried out in Malawi, Costa Rica and Nepal, with the team visiting one plant clinic in each country.
The annual European Development Days, held in Brussels 7-8 June this year, showcase Europe’s commitment to building a sustainable and fairer world. The forum builds on the core belief that cooperation is key to achieve real change towards a poverty-free and sustainable world where everyone has the prospect for a decent life. At this year’s conference, CABI hosted a panel discussion which drew together a group of food security and agricultural experts to share their experiences of how partnerships supports smallholder farmers.
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
On 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.