Malawi has a large, growing population with one of the highest population densities in Africa. It is also one of the poorest countries on the continent, with an economy dominated by low-level subsistence agriculture.  

Climate change means that farmers face acute and worsening environmental conditions such as droughts and floods, leading to unpredictable growing seasons. This is made worse by poor traditional agricultural practices.  These twin challenges result in poor harvests, frequent crop failures, and widespread hunger. Agriculture in Malawi is currently dominated by the outside provision of money, fertiliser, equipment and food. This is not just unsustainable: it constitutes a serious national crisis. 

Traditional agricultural practices

Sadly, suboptimal traditional subsistence agriculture is practiced throughout the country. This not only traps farmers in poverty, but also results in highly damaging degradation of the countryside, and a loss of fertility. In 1997, a World Bank study of agriculture in Malawi stated that for each hectare of farmland, 20 tonnes of soil were lost each year, all because of poor farming practices.  A recent FAO study indicates that soil loss in Northern Malawi is nearer 29 tonnes loss every year per hectare.

The photograph shows Ivy Trinidade Chimaliro holdings two sets of maize cobs: those grown with Tiyeni methods in her left hand, and those grown with traditional methods, in her right. (Photo: Alan Dixon, Chora area, 2014.)

Tiyeni's aim

Our ultimate aim is to stop damaging and unsustainable farming throughout Malawi and replace them with more enlightened, profitable farming methods which retain the rainwater and also nourish, protect and rebuild degraded soils. This will enable farmers to become self-sufficient, and to create a surplus that allows them, their families and their communities to break out of a long cycle of poverty, whilst rehabilitating the land for future generations.