Case Study: Mr. Gospel Mvula

Mr Gospel Mvula is a 35-year old man from Bala Section in Chikangawa EPA in Mzimba South District, Northern Malawi. He has been a farmer since 2009. He is married to Elizabeth Theu and they have three children.

Mr Mvula has been farming his land which has fairly poor soils from degradation. He was struggling to make ends meet because the maize yield from his land would not last the whole season. He was harvesting just 300-500kg of maize from two pieces of land, amounting to 0.8 hectares.

In the 2016/17 season he and his fellow farmers were fortunate to see Deep Bed Farming (DBF) in Matuli, Msipazi and neighbouring areas in Emsizini EPA. They were very impressed with the method and the resultant yields.

gospel mvula man

They approached Tiyeni through one of our excellent Field Officers (Love Msika,) and she introduced DBF into the Bala Community in 2017/18. Gospel was one of those that tried DBF on 0.1ha of land, and was nominated as a Lead Farmer for one of the three farmer clubs formed in Bala in that year.

The yield was so impressive that in 2018/2019 he started redeeming land which he had virtually abandoned due to degradation, by converting it to DBF. At the next harvest, an extraordinary increase in maize yield was found, rising from about 300-500 kgs to 2,500 Kgs (see the table below).

Such a dramatic (nearly tenfold) multiplication of yields is possible in some cases because some land is so badly degraded that yields can be below 300 kgs per hectare -- or in the worst cases, zero. (Mathematically, any yield would then be an infinite yield increase from zero!) What is more interesting than these anecdotal yield multiples is the average yield multiples. We found that on average in 2019, yields increased by 146 percent, or two and a half times, for those farms that converted from traditional methods to Deep Bed Farming (see France Gondwe's research results.)

Mr Mvula has used DBF for three years and has now converted all his land to DBF.

He is delighted to have discovered and then learned this method. By adopting DBF, his land has been transformed to become productive again. In addition, he has found that he does not need to use as much artificial fertiliser- reducing the cost of growing the crop. (He used 200kg in 2017 and only 100 kgs in 2019)

More recently, as a result of surpluses from DBF, he has made some life changing investments for himself and his family - a motorbike and a water well! The motorbike means he can easily take his surpluses to market. The water well means that the family do not spend up to 3 hours a day walking to fetch water (with a resultant improvement in family health).

Year Ridges Land area (ha) DBF Land area (ha) Aggregate Yield (kgs)
2016/17 0.8ha 0 300
2017/18 0.7ha 0.1ha 550
2018/19 0.1ha 0.7ha 2,660
2019/20 0 .8ha results awaited

mvula  bala

His wife Elizabeth Theu is very happy to have adopted DBF. She says DBF has increased their yields of maize, beans and soya beans and groundnuts. She said in 2020 their family had more than enough maize and sold about 1.5 tones for cash income. She said her life is transforming from poverty and shortage of maize to a food secure and a happy family by DBF farming.

Mr Mvula was presented with a pig from Tiyeni's livestock pass-on scheme to help farmers make quality manure, and to improve livelihoods from selling animals as they multiply. He has now been able to make quality manure all year round, greatly improving the vegetative growth of maize and other crops.

gospel mvula 2

He is taking good care of the pig and expects to grow into a livestock entrepreneur by raising several pigs for manure and selling.