Another milestone for Deep Bed Farming

29 April 2022

We are delighted that the Agriculture Technology Clearing Committee (ATCC) of the Government of Malawi has voted unanimously in favour of the Deep Bed Farming system, giving it a status as one of the agriculture technologies farmers can now practice in Malawi with their support. The Committee found that Deep Bed Farming out-performed all other methods tested.

There was jubilation amongst Tiyeni staff, the Director of the Department of Land Resources Conservation and other well-wishers who were in the auditorium to hear the results. A milestone was achieved for Tiyeni Malawi and its technology, the Deep Bed Farming best known for its control of soil erosion, water harvesting, and crop yields increase, alongside its environmental friendliness. Isaac Chavula, Executive Director of Tiyeni Malawi, shares his reaction to the certification:

When the ATCC made that important decision to clear the Deep Bed Farming system for use by the farmers of Malawi, it was a moment of relief and hope for the future of many smallholder farmers. The decision opened a bright future for adopters of the Deep Bed Farming system to get out of food and income insecurity. The decision brought a hope that we have a technology that can control erosion and harvest rainwater for increased productivity.

Clearance of the Deep Bed Farming system now means that the government extension system, donors, NGOs in the Agriculture sector can promote the innovative farming system to help farmers more than double the yields of crops.

We are delighted with this boost to progress the rolling out of the method and reaching thousands more farmers in Malawi. Deep Bed farming can now be taught in schools and colleges alongside existing agricultural technologies. Plans include for the University of Livingstonia to teach Deep Bed Farming as part of their BSc level programme of Sustainable Agriculture.

April's Green Match Fund campaign

We're pleased to say we've reached our fundraising target The Big Give! Your donations will help us to help farmers lift themselves out of hunger and poverty with climate smart agricultural training.

Malawi was hit by Tropical Cyclone Ana in January causing tragic and preventable loss of life and destruction of livelihoods. Weather extremes like this, caused by climate change, are harming food security and livelihoods. More than 200,000 people in Malawi were affected. Heavy rains, flooding and strong winds displaced at least 33,000 people. More than 500 of our beneficiary farmers were affected by crop losses and the destruction of farmland - their fields were submerged, crops swept away and some people’s homes destroyed.

Distributing sweet potato vines to farmers in need
Distributing sweet potato vines to farmers in need

We help to build sustainable communities and support farmers and families in need during times of crisis. Our training in Deep Bed Farming produces resilient crops and soils. It captures rainfall and controls flow of water by ensuring water soaks into the soil, making rivers flow less violently in the rains, and for longer during the dry seasons.

At this very difficult time, we are helping farmers to replace crop losses and training them on quick maturing crops including cassava cuttings, sweet potato vines, green peas, tomatoes, and crops that use high moisture. In this way, they will still have a harvest this year and will be able to feed their families. Your donations will help us reach more farmers so that they can rebuild their livelihoods and won’t run out of food later in the year.

Meet the new UK Executive Director of Tiyeni

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We caught up with Alex Gerard, Tiyeni's new UK Executive Director, to find out more about the man and the role.

This is a new role at Tiyeni. What attracted you to it?

I was instantly drawn to Tiyeni because of the instant impact the team has. I have worked for many years in the not-for-profit sector and sometimes the results take time but with Tiyeni the impact on the community is instant. From the moment the team arrives, the life of the farmer, their family, and the community changes. The images of crops in the before and after are stunning and real! I love that you can show a farmer a field using the ridge method and Deep Bed Farming and they get it, the difference is immediate! I am also fascinated by the data that also underpins what Tiyeni does and the positive impact it is having on the environment. So many charities have great results, but the research isn’t there, but Tiyeni has that too! Ultimately, I was attracted to Tiyeni as it is empowering people to move out of food poverty, improving the environment, and making a real difference to the people of Malawi.

Tiyeni has come a long way since it was founded in 2005. What are your plans for the next 3 years?

The work to date by Tiyeni is truly impressive and over the next 3 years, I want to build on that. I have an environmental background and I see the huge potential of our work in addressing climate resilience, biodiversity, and water management. There are exciting opportunities to grow what we do in Malawi but also to take this methodology to other countries that suffer from the same issue of soil erosion and subsistence farming. These are big challenges and 3 years will fly by, but I hope to get the conversation started!

How does Tiyeni fit into the broader landscape of agricultural development in Africa? What other organizations and partners does your work rely on?

There is a move in Africa toward large-scale farming with complex irrigation systems, however we do not see this as the correct path. We want to empower smallholder farmers to improve their situation and that of their community, take better control of their futures and improve the environment that they live in. We strongly believe that our simple method can be the catalyst for that change.

Partnerships are vital to our success and our growth. Our biggest partnership is now with the Malawian Government, and particularly the Ministry of Agriculture. Since our technique was approved by them, we can more quickly increase the reach of our work. This also helps us when talking to other countries. We do however recognise that although we are experts in our work, we need to partner with other organisations that share our vision and have skills in environmental sustainability, hydrology, and economics and that is just for starters!

With so many great organizations to support, why should people choose to support Tiyeni?

All organisations are unique, but Tiyeni’s work is really changing the landscape of agriculture in Malawi and Africa. As a child, I remember watching the images of drought and famine in Africa and it seemed an impossible task to feed so many people, but the work our team does every day is changing that and lifting people out of food poverty and providing a more secure future.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The passion of my team and the amazing images that come through on our WhatsApp group from Malawi. The videos of people singing and dancing around their new Deep Bed crops genuinely make me smile and so proud to be doing this work.

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Write to us at:
Andrew Roberts
Treasurer / Trustee
Tiyeni
252 Cowbridge Road East
Cardiff
CF5 1GZ

info@tiyeni.org

Within Malawi, please email the Mzuzu office directly at isaacmonjo.chavula@tiyeni.org