The Tiyeni Method

The UK Government gave $22 million in late 2013 for emergency feeding. Food aid without sustainable farming is temporary and is not a real solution to the problem.

Tiyeni provides a long term sustainable alternative for far less money.

The causes – these are well known:

  • Soil erosion
  • Water loss
  • Burning
  • Falling soil fertility

The solution – the Tiyeni method:

  • Contour ridges with closed ends
  • Deep and wide beds with zero tillage
  • Soil never compacted
  • Mulching not burning
  • Compost and manure
  • Companion planting

The effect

  • Ever increasing soil fertility
  • Food security in rural villages
  • Surpluses provide farm income
  • Foreign Food Aid programmes reduced


The Tiyeni Steps

Stage Activity Detail Benefit
1 Create the marker ridges By careful measurement with a line level the marker ridges are created exactly on the contour lines at intervals down the slope This method gives a really clear line to work with and will prevent water erosion
2 Reinforce the marker ridges Vetiver grass is a noninvasive deep-rooted grass planted to stablilise the marker ridge. Vetiver grass is a miracle plant used throughout the developing world and is essential to help to create stable marker ridges and mulching opportunities
3 Create the holding ditch Above the marker ridge a ditch 0.5 metres wide with closed ends becomes a holding reservoir after heavy rain This stops erosion, and by holding the water above the bed, allows the water to reach the crop roots through slow percolation into the subsoil
4 Breaking the “hard pan” At 1 hoe depth where land has been continuously farmed, the hard pan under the topsoil will be broken up with forks and pick axes creating a deeper topsoil The hard pan stops water and crop roots from going deeper. By breaking it up there is less chance of erosion and the crops will be more robust to deal with a dry spell
5 Making the deep beds Deep beds about 1m wide are created reducing evaporation. These will never be trodden on again The old ridge and furrow method has a high surface area leading to evaporation. Digging each year is not necessary if the soil is not trodden in
6 Planting the beds The beds are wide enough for 2 rows of maize and for interplanting of other crops Inter-planting can complement the crops and help with pests and diseases. Yields are significantly higher and last longer
7 Weeding and mulching The weeds are pulled up and laid on the surface. Crop residues and chopped vetiver grass are also laid. Nothing is ever burned Reduces evaporation and soil heat and builds organic content of the soil. Weeding is lighter work than digging. Whole families can help
8 Companion planting Maize is planted interspersed with beans, pumpkin kale and other local crops making full use of thewide beds The legumes nitrogenerate the soil, consecutive cropping lengthens the cropping season and increases food variety
9 Composting Excess foliage, crop residue etc is put into compost heaps with additives where soil is depleted. Animal (nitrogenous) waste is added to help the composting process As produce is being taken from the land in the form of food it is essential that nutrients are replenished and balanced through composting
10 Pigs Each village is given a pig by Tiyeni and through the services of a roving boar, piglets are produced which are given to farmers within the village. The pig waste is used in compost The pig programme binds the village together as all are interested in the successful breeding programme


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