Transforming farming through conservation agriculture in Malawi

By Johnson Siamachira and Isaiah Nyagumbo

Fifty-year – old lead farmer Catherine Kariza lives in one of drought –ravaged village in Ntcheu district , , Malawi. Kariza has been growing maize since 1985, but without water for irrigation and using traditional farming practices, her yields were very low. With erratic rainfall, she harvested less than 1 ton of maize per hectare, forcing her to register for government food relief services.

Tanzania mother takes charge of change

FelistaThrough their own determination, and with support from local researchers, CIMMYT, ICRISAT, and organizations in Australia, sub-Saharan African farmers are applying improved maize-legume cropping systems to grow more food and make money.

SIMLESA in Mozambique

Mozambique farmersIn Angonia District, of Tete Province, Mozambique,maize is intercropped with sugar beans, known as manteiga in the local language. The people here speak Chichewa, which is also spoken in Malawi. Weed control is a major problem in the region as herbicides are not widely used, and farmers do not always understand that they must weed all year long, not just when the crop begins to emerge. The farmers agree that weeding is easier on flat ground as compared to the ridges used in the farmers’ conventional practice. “Our ancestors used [ridges] to control against soil erosion, and we have continued to do so”, says Ernesto Jose, one of the farmers.

Farmers in Balaka, Malawi, prefer CA

Balaka district

If Chrisy Samson Mpomola, a farmer in Malawi, were to choose a method of farming for her whole farm, she would choose the conservation agriculture (CA) method, with no ridges, where maize is intercropped with pigeon peas and herbicide applied (only Glyphosate)  for weed control. Why?

Malawian farmer happy to be part of SIMLESA

Violet ChiwandaViolet Chiwanda, (right picture) is a small-scale farmer in Salima, Central Malawi, who is participating in SIMLESA. She is a young woman, aged 25 years, with a farm of 0.25 ha. “I am happy to be involved in the SIMLESA project”, she says. “What I like most about this project is Conservation Agriculture (CA), a farming method that is less tedious and this gives me time to attend to other household chores.”

Funded by

ACIAR
Ethiopia Kenya Malawi Mozambique Tanzania
© Copyright. CIMMYT is supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA)

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
P.O. Box MP 163,
Mount Pleasant Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone numbers in Zimbabwe:
+263 (772) 465 211/212
Fax: +263 (4) 301 327