Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Find answers below to our most frequently asked questions.

What does tiyeni mean?

Tiyeni means "Let's Go!" in Chichewa, Malawi's most widely spoken language. Or you could say “let's get on with it!”

Is it a UK charity?

Yes, The Tiyeni Fund charitable trust no. 1113274 is registered with the UK Charity Commission in 2005. In 2021, Tiyeni was confirmed as a UK Charitable Incorporated Organisation, no. 1194177.

The Tiyeni Organisation (Limited) is the operational arm of Tiyeni in Malawi and registered as a local non-governmental charitable organisation with the governing body in Malawi; CONGOMA.

What is so special about Tiyeni?

Our low-tech, low-cost approach called Deep Bed Farming is producing astonishing results and multiplying crop yields in Malawi. These results are sustained and even improved over time as we build healthy soils.

We do not rely on incentives and inputs to promote adoption of our methods: instead, we respond to demand for our farming technology. Word is spreading so fast that we cannot keep up with demand from farmers for training.

When was The Charity formed?

The Tiyeni Fund was officially formed in 2005, but it has a history that reaches back to the years of poor harvests from the mid to late 1990s, when Malawi’s maize production fell far below the 2m tonnes or so required to feed the population. Read more about this on our webpage about our history.

Who benefits from Tiyeni?

We work with rural communities and other organisations across all regions of Malawi, benefitting farmers, their families, and children. Project participants typically depend on subsistence farming for their livelihood.

What will my donation be spent on?

Our core activity is to train Malawians to use Deep Bed Farming (DBF).

The money donated by our supporters is used to fund the training and tools to lift a farmer, or a family, or a community, out of poverty, and set them up for life. This could be a pick axe to break the soil hard pan, specialised lead farmer training or a field event to spread knowledge to an entire village.

A small but vital part is spent on operational costs and we invest in training for our staff. Our UK expenditure is kept to a minimum in order to channel funds to where they are needed most: in Malawi.

What is Deep Bed Farming?

DBF is a hybrid form of Conservation Agriculture (CA) a well established (and successful) set of methods which involve minimal soil disturbance, cover crops and crop rotation. Over several years of trial and error Tiyeni has developed new innovations to build on the CA approach, detailed below.

What need does Tiyeni meet?

Malawi is the world’s fourth poorest country, 52.6% of the population are multidimensionally poor and more than 85% of the families where we work are food insecure before project activities begin.

If Tiyeni's farming method is so good, why aren't all farmers doing it?

Farmers and others describe Tiyeni's methods as plain common sense, but a farmer cannot choose to farm in a sustainable and regenerative way without the knowledge of how.

As knowledge of DBF has spread in Malawi, it is a testament to the remarkable success of the method that from just 38 farmers in 2012, over 30,000 were practising the Deep Bed method by early 2023.

More answers to this question can be found on our history page, which lays out a longer and more subtle story.

What is new about DBF?

Key innovations include the particular design of the deep beds and using a pickaxe to break up hard compacted layers of earth several inches under the ground, to allow the method to work effectively.

To this (already transformational) method we harness other healthy farming practices, such as good composting, cover crops, mulching, contour planting and crop rotation. Whereas artificial fertiliser may feed the plants, our methods nurture the soils.

Is DBF grounded in evidence?

Yes, our research page contains research reports on DBF, from our own internal research, from official research, and from independent external researchers.

At the bottom of the page we outline a number of potential avenues for researchers. We warmly invite you to come to Malawi and investigate what is happening!

Do you only work in Malawi?

Yes, we currently work across the three regions of Malawi. The spreading of our Deep Bed method and partnerships, however, extend across the globe as DBF is applicable widely in Africa and elsewhere.

We believe that DBF could be of great use to millions of farmers, in Malawi and beyond, and it could have major impact on curbing hunger.

Who trains the farmers?

Tiyeni's highly qualified training team and our Lead Farmers train others in their communities. Training is in groups and with whole communities using our Decentralised Demonstration Garden approach.

Who delivers projects?

Day to day management of Tiyeni's operations is the responsibility of our in-country team, led by Country Director Isaac Monjo Chavula. You can read about the team roles here.

Do Tiyeni trustees get paid?

No, Tiyeni is governed by a Board of Trustees who are all volunteers.

What if farmers do not want to adopt DBF?

Tiyeni follows a demand-led model of teaching DBF and only responds to requests for assistance. Farmers choices and our reactions to that, are the driving forces for our ethos.

What incentives do farmers have for adopting DBF?

We do not rely on incentives to promote adoption of our methods: Inputs are the essential minimums, being mainly tools that farmers do not normally have – pickaxes and line levels. DBF spreads fast because of multiple benefits (better crops in quantity and quality) that the farmers see in it.

How can I volunteer at Tiyeni?

You can support Tiyeni by signing up for our newsletter and spreading the word through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you have more time to give, please email us at For volunteering within Malawi, email Martha at

How can I donate to Tiyeni?

Donating to Tiyeni is easy through our Donate page, or please contact us at to make a transfer. Cheques should be posted to

Ian Kerr
8, Brookside
TA19 9RT

Make cheques payable to Tiyeni, or direct BACS donations to:

Bank: Co-operative Sort Code: 08-92-99 Account Number: 67265956

Can I set up a regular donation?

We would welcome your regular support, which will be so valuable towards Tiyeni's work in Malawi. Set a monthly donation today by scanning Tiyeni's PayPal QR code below:

qrcode tiyeni paypal

Alternatively, please email us for a Standing Order Mandate to return to your bank.

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Write to us at:
Ian Kerr
8, Brookside
TA19 9RT

Within Malawi, please email the Mzuzu office directly at