Here's what people have to say about the benefits of Deep Bed farming.
Deep bed farming has made improvements in our farms, most especially to soil...and it has helped us to recharge the ground [water]. This is in line with our conservation efforts, starting from the mountain down to the community…it helps retain moisture, reduce soil erosion, and increase the yields
Jonas, Malawian smallholder farmer, 2022. Watch the full interview below.
Life has been transformed from poverty and chronic shortage of maize, to food security and a happy family with Deep Bed farming. All this is due to regeneration of soil in the fields.
Elizabeth, Malawian smallholder farmer
It has been raining for 4 days and my neighbor has experienced a great soil erosion because his beds could not hold water at all. I took my neighbour to check the situation at my field and he was quite surprised to see no erosion in my field
Malawian youth farmer
I have worked in soil and water conservation for around 60 years, and I have rarely seen such impressive results being achieved by resource-poor small-scale farmers.
Francis Shaxson, (winner of the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award, U.S. Soil and Water Conservation Society,) Feb 2020
As we are in the hospitability industry and our purpose is to feed people, we wanted to find a charity that was involved in nourishment and essential food production, whilst helping to restore the health of the soil and our planet. Tiyeni fits that bill perfectly and we are delighted to be supporting their important work through 1% for the Planet.
Suzanne Abrey-Cameron, Company Director, The Prospect Exeter, Dec 2022
Yannik, Arkansas agriculturalist, July 2022
I am a caterer in the South East of England. The starting point of my day in the kitchen is food that has been produced with care for the farmed ecosystem and its people.
I have spent time in Africa and Papua New Guinea and I wanted to support a charity that helps in a country where harsher conditions makes growing food more difficult; one that has no reliance on hefty machines or expensive technologies and is managed by people in their communities. It is inspiring that Tiyeni's methods are becoming impactful in an ever increasing area because the sight of crop success spreads the word.
I would love our worldwide farming future to become more diverse, local and resilient. In Malawi, Tiyeni demonstrates that it can also see humans as part of the ecosystem, build soil carbon as part of our defence against climate change and encourage biodiversity.
Sarah Litchfield Elm Green business owner in East Sussex, UK. October 2022
Deep bed farming can be a new good technology that may be promoted among farmers in Malawi as it increases both maize and biomass yields. The increased biomass production may lead to increased soil organic matter in the long run as the crop residues are placed on the soil surface."
Department of Agricultural Research Services, Malawi Ministry of Agriculture, which began testing the methods in nine locations in 2018 (compiled in November 2019.)
The bedding system (DBF) has got all the advantages so the maize can do well, if we compare to the ridges. Because on the bed system, the conservation of water is there all the time. . . it promises that you are going to have a bumper yield, as you can see from this bedding system. This is marvellous. It is very very good.
Alfred Kapichira Banda, President of the Farmers Union of Malawi, 2019
This year [we] have more than enough maize and will sell 1.5 tons for cash income.
Elizabeth Theu, farmer, Bala Section in Chikangawa EPA in Mzimba South District, 2019. (See the banner image above, and the case study with Gospel Mvula, here.)
It is impossible not to recognise the benefits. On one side, where the Deep Bed Farming method has been applied, huge maize crops, rich and thick, and on the other side, essentially no crops.
Holly Tett, British High Commissioner, on a visit to the Mzuzu area, June 2018. (See the video here.)
After observing that crops at the Tiyeni project at Madisi did very well in spite of the dry spells which had plagued farmers in that area, the District Agricultural Officer for the Mponela district in central Malawi said that if deep bed farming were intensified in the area farmers would be freed from hunger because of the good yields which they would get.
He added that, according to a long-term study in the area, 15 cms of ground water were being lost annually due to insufficient replenishment of the aquifers, but as deep bed farming increases infiltration it would replenish the groundwater table and boreholes, and shallow wells and natural streams would be brought back to life.
Tiyeni Newsletter, May 2018
"Deep beds hold water for crop development in times of insufficient rains".
Paramount Chief M’belwa, ruler of the huge Angoni area, after surveying 32 Tiyeni gardens which had yielded 6.5 tonnes of maize per hectare in the 2016/2017 growing season, compared with less than two tonnes for the traditional method. (Speaking at the Mzimba Agricultural Fair held in August 2017, as reported in our Autumn 2017 Newsletter.)
"The crop germinated very well, but . . . suddenly the rain stopped for two solid weeks, then I started worrying that my crops will die with the dry spell. To my surprise I observed the goodness of deep tillage. No single crop died or showed signs of withering in my garden. Every crop was flourishing very well. The second thing I noticed was that no runoff was seen in my garden after heavy rain, all water remained in my garden.
Those who were laughing at me were amazed at the good crop stand seen in my garden. Now I am very confident that with this kind of farming I have beaten hunger in my family this year."
Vanes Mvula, a (woman farmer) from the Honga area, Tiyeni newsletter, Jan 2017.
"If we continue farming in the way our fathers taught us (referring to cultivation on ridges), we will all starve. We must adopt the way Tiyeni has shown us today."
- Angoni Chief Mbondolo, (addressing the crowd at the Open Day at Matuli,) April 2015
At a meeting which followed a visit to Tiyeni farmers’ gardens in the Choma area, Group Village Headman Chimaliro said that since seeing the progress made by farmers under Tiyeni’s guidance, he wanted the Tiyeni system extended to the whole of the area under his control.
Tiyeni newsletter, June 2014
"I have seen many organizations working in my area, but I have never seen their achievements like Tiyeni has done . . . The production of maize and legumes which we have seen today can clearly show that hunger can be minimized in my area. Therefore I appeal to all of us and my people to leave the old methods and adopt the Tiyeni technology this year for us to be food secure."
- Group Village Headman Bununkhu, Honga area (from Febuary 2014 Field Report.)
Visiting the demonstration garden at Doroba village where the deep bed method was first introduced, after a night of heavy rain, I was called by one of the farmers who was pointing to the high water mark left on the furrow between two beds. She exclaimed, "Look! All the water has gone down into the ground." Previously it would have been rushing over the surface, carrying away soil as it went.
John Crossley, a founder of Tiyeni, recalling the early days
"We shall not have to go to South Africa because we can find prosperity here at home."
Group Village Headman M'Beya, Matuli, following inspection of his garden newly converted to Deep Bed Farming. This was part of a show that two young men had put on for Tiyeni staff in the early days of Tiyeni. John Crossley recalls: "This, of course was a bit of gallantry on their part – just good manners perhaps – but it was not without an element of truth, since it is noticeable that the rejuvenation of the soil has enabled wife-and-husband to work the land together rather than his having to leave home to go trading or for paid employment."
"In Malawi it is not uncommon to get only 300 kgs from two acres (or 0.8 hectares) of land, which is pitiful. This indicates very serious degradation of the soil, and huge compaction problems. Some land will have (maybe) 10 years of cropping left in it, while some will have none and is abandoned. Deep Bed Farmers aim to achieve 8,000 kgs per hectare and reduce artificial fertilisers. DBF farming can return the land to full productivity, and we can repeat this all over Malawi."
Colin Andrews, Current Chair of Tiyeni, March 2020