Our goal is to show farmers how to improve their crop yields, using extremely low-cost, low-technology methods. Our results have been spectacular and word is spreading so fast that we cannot keep up with demand from farmers for training. 

Our main activity is to train Malawians to use Deep Bed Farming. The core method involves using a pickaxe to break up hard compacted layers of earth several inches under the ground, which are prevalent across large areas of the country.  This allows roots, water and air to penetrate more deeply into the soil, and helps the soil retain moisture underground long after the rains, instead of running off immediately after rainfall and causing devastating soil erosion.   

To this (already transformational) method we harness a number of other healthy farming practices, such as good composting, cover crops, mulching, and crop rotation. Our innovative Deep Bed system reinforces and preserves the gains, preventing the compacted layer from re-forming, allowing for subsequent minimal or zero tillage.

A 1997 World Bank study of agriculture in Malawi and a separate report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have estimated that the rate of soil erosion in many parts of Malawi to be far in excess of the rate that is required to keep the soil in a good and productive condition. In some areas, over 20 tonnes of soil have been lost per hectare, each year. 

Tiyeni started in 2004 and by 2012 the prototype had been trialled successfully in several different locations. We began live operations in 2013 with 38 farmers in four villages. By early 2020 almost 15,000 farmers had received training directly from Tiyeni staff, from our Lead Farmers training others in their communities, or had simply learned from and copied their neighbours.  The numbers continue to grow exponentially. Our methods do not rely on widespread hand-outs, so they are low-cost and sustainable too.
 
We believe our approach is likely to be useful in large areas of Malawi and beyond, though there are as yet no relevant studies available to show where our methods are likely to be most effective. Our long-term goal is to introduce Deep Bed Farming across Southern Africa wherever the climate, agricultural requirements and socio-economic conditions make it appropriate to use.
 

Our potential climate change impact

Tiyeni's methods do not only help farmers deal with the effects of climate change, by making crops and soils more resilient and retaining and storing water more effectively. There is also evidence that soils, properly treated and respected, can directly help mitigate climate change too. They can absorb and store large amounts of carbon, extracted from CO2 in the atmosphere, via the plants and other organisms they support.  Plant cells in leaves, stems and roots are built from carbon, and when the roots penetrate more deeply into the soil, which is the fundamental aim of Tiyeni's farming practices, they carry carbon down with them where it stays underground.
 
We are not climate scientists, but we believe our methods can have a positive effect on the climate. You  can find out more about soils and carbon capture here or here. We also invite researchers to visit our projects in Malawi to study our methods and impacts! 
 

Our structure

Tiyeni Ltd. is the operational arm of Tiyeni. It is run by Malawians, from a small headquarters in Mzuzu in Northern Malawi. This is supported by a UK-based charity, the Tiyeni Fund, set up by life-long residents of Malawi who have worked to help rural communities for many years. Tiyeni means "Let's Go!" in Chichewa, Malawi's most widely spoken language.

All the staff in Malawi are local Malawians who have a passion in tackling hunger in their country. 

 

Financials

A UK registered charity, we rely entirely on donations to fund our work in Malawi. We raise money from international Trusts and Foundations, from high net worth individuals, and from a range of smaller donors who pay monthly amounts, from £5 to £100. Our UK expenditure is kept to an absolute minimum in order to channel funds to where they are needed most: in Malawi.

The UK Charities Commission has published data about our financials. We will additionally publish our own data soon (written Feb. 2020: we are currently rebuilding our website.) 

 

About Malawi

Malawi, with a population of nearly 20 million people, is one of the world's poorest countries. The continuing degradation of the countryside in general and of the soil in particular constitutes a serious, long-running national crisis. A 1997 World Bank study of agriculture in Malawi and a separate report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have estimated that the rate of soil erosion in many parts of Malawi to be far in excess of the rate that is required to keep the soil in a good and productive condition. Tiyeni is helping stop the erosion, and rebuilding Malawi's potentially very fertile soils.

 

See our impacts!