Project Application of Deep Bed Farming (DBF) Methods

Tiyeni has a proven track record of delivering projects to farmers across different regions in Malawi. Projects show farmers how to improve their crop yields, using extremely low-cost, low-technology methods, principally using the ten step method, as illustrated below.

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Current Project example - Manyamula

This two year project began in November 2018 and will benefit 3,480 people through increases in household food supplies and incomes during the project period funded by the Halcrow Foundation. Activities are being managed in the field by Tiyeni’s Field Officer, Timothy Moyo, working in collaboration with the Government Agriculture Office.

Project acheivements:

In year one half of the target beneficiaries received DBF training. Our experiences when farmers are trained by our all Malawian staff, is that the farmers are very quick to understand. Often, we hear farmers describing DBF as “common sense”. Indeed, the principles are just that. The essential training is there to deal with the complex setting up of the deep beds, particularly where the farms are on complex slopes.

Project workshops use the Decentralised Demonstration Garden approach for practical teaching. This is a key part of Tiyeni’s way of operating. The decentralised demonstration garden works on the principle that part of the farmer training will take place on each farmers land in turn. All the farmers work on all the fields of neighbours during training. This helps to share best practice but also ensures that there is fairness in the community.

Farmers choices and our reactions to that, are the driving forces for our ethos. This is very much a partnership of Tiyeni ideas and “bottom-up” initiatives from farmers. There is already an increased demand for DBF from the villages surrounding Manyamula. Five villages have submitted their requests to Tiyeni, with hundreds of additional farmers from these villages wanting to be trained!

The photos below record the field work in progress:

Making pit compost
Making pit compost

Heaps of Bokashi compost made in July 2019
Heaps of Bokashi compost made in July 2019

A farmer shows the soil 'hard pan' which must be broken up manually
A farmer shows the soil 'hard pan' which must be broken up manually

A group of farmers till the land in July 2019
A group of farmers till the land in July 2019

Farmers receive new T-shirts during the distribution ceremony
Farmers receive new T-shirts during the distribution ceremony

After making beds farmers were trained in pre-planting compost application
After making beds farmers were trained in pre-planting compost application

Tiyeni staff enjoy when they see how Deep Bed farming transforms farmers experience of what the land can give! Here is Godfrey Kumwenda (Training Manager) holding the camera and Manyamula Field Officer, Timothy Moyo, showing a huge contrast between Tiyeni’s Deep Bed maize (right) and the plants grown on traditional ridges (front left).

Leonard and all of his family are happy after adopting Deep Bed farming on their land with training from Timothy and Godfrey.
Leonard and all of his family are happy after adopting Deep Bed farming on their land with training from Timothy and Godfrey.


Past Project example - Chimbongondo and Embombeni areas

These neighbouring areas in the Northern region of Malawi have been supported over 2 years. The transformation of the Deep Bed fields and the flourishing quick growth of crops has been dramatic. Like many in the areas, a trained farmer asks “Where was this technology all these past years when hunger ruined our lives?"

DBF creates robust soil conditions that can accommodate unpredictable weather very effectively. In fact, it is in the last 5 years when rainfall has been so sporadic, that DBF has been seen by so many farmers to be effective.

The people we work with depend on subsistence farming as their major livelihood activity and the project acheivements will be transformational.

Leonard and all of his family are happy after adopting Deep Bed farming on their land with training from Timothy and Godfrey.
Leonard and all of his family are happy after adopting Deep Bed farming on their land with training from Timothy and Godfrey.

Trained farmer Wellings by his crop stand in 2020. He says ever since he started cultivating this field this stand is unique. He applauds DBF.
Trained farmer Wellings by his crop stand in 2020. He says ever since he started cultivating this field this stand is unique. He applauds DBF.

In Mwai’s field a good cover crop suppresses weed growth at the same time as reducing the impacts of rain drops
In Mwai’s field a good cover crop suppresses weed growth at the same time as reducing the impacts of rain drops

Deep Bed field of Esther (back left) and her conventional field (lower right)
Deep Bed field of Esther (back left) and her conventional field (lower right)

Nancy in her Deep Bed field in Chimbongondo
Nancy in her Deep Bed field in Chimbongondo

Langson and his wife in their DBF, Chimbongondo
Langson and his wife in their DBF, Chimbongondo

Weeding Deep Beds in Embombeni in January 2020
Weeding Deep Beds in Embombeni in January 2020

Deep Beds after rainfall in January, Embombeni
Deep Beds after rainfall in January, Embombeni

A diversity of healthier and more plentiful crops growing in Embombeni
A diversity of healthier and more plentiful crops growing in Embombeni

Mercy harvesting her crops in April 2020
Mercy harvesting her crops in April 2020