'We learn a lot from the Africa RISING project mother site. Now I know how to implement a proper rotation that ensures my soil stays fertile for the next crop I will plant.'
Moses Ndiche, a farmer from Khanganya Village, Linthipe EPA in Malawi.
German Luca, manages an Africa RISING mother site in Mtila Village, Mtubwi EPA, Machinga District. On the mother trial site, there are ongoing experiments by the project on soil and water conservation as well as proper nutrient management techniques like maize–legume rotations.
Moses and German are just two examples of how valuable and central the mother trial sites have become to farmers in the communities where Africa RISING work is ongoing.
Tackling the legume seed dilemma
Obtaining good quality legume seed is still a major challenge faced by most farmers in Malawi. For example when farmers buy seed from agro-dealers the germination rate on some instances is as low as 30%. The Africa RISING project therefore sought to provide viable and sustainable alternatives for farmers to overcome this challenge by training some of the farmers as seed multipliers.
Africa RISING Project target is to ensure that 250,000 smallholder farmers have access to seed of improved legume varieties and are using appropriate agronomic practices for enhanced resilience and production. This target will be achieved in collaboration with the INVC Bridging Activity and other Feed the Future funded projects working in the same districts and beyond.
Charles Kuyenda from Linthipe EPA is among 10 farmers in the EPA, who are working within the Africa RISING Project as soybean seed multipliers.
This is Charles Kuyenda's first season of seed multiplication and he is very excited about it. His farm is 0.25 hectares. He has other fields where he planted maize and groundnut in intercrops and as sole stands, something else that he picked from the mother site. Being involved in the project for the past 1 year now, Charles has learnt how to correctly set up ridges. For example, last season he had 63 ridges only on his farm, but after visiting the mother site and learning by working with Africa RISING researchers there, he has now increased the ridges to 91 after realizing that this ensured better moisture conservation and crop density.
'Usually, the soybean traders buy from us at a low price. I am sure that I will get more as a seed multiplier working with the Africa RISING project. In fact, the way I see it, I will probably continue with this even if the project goes away because the issue of quality seed is real to us.'
Charles Kuyenda, Linthipe EPA
Sylvia Luwonde is one of the 60 groundnut seed multipliers under the Africa RISING Project in Ntubwi EPA, Machinga District. The project offered her 10 kg of groundnut seed for multiplication.
Sheila Magaleta, a mother of three, is a member of another farming groups that works with the Bridging Project - Njomole Chapter Farmers Association. The association has 1,000 members.
As part of the group, Sheila has been involved in the project for the past three years. She acknowledges to have learnt a lot! For example, she neither knew about double row planting nor the spacing between rows. She would just grow her soybean without following any particular best practice. She has now been trained on spacing (75 cm between rows), double row planting and effective maize-legume rotation. As a result, she confirms to have seen the productivity of her farm go up! She also now gets more income that she uses to pay for her children’s education as well as buy other farm inputs like fertilizer for her maize.
One of the most significant benefits she derives from the project has been from the collective marketing option for their soybean produce implemented by ACE and CADECOM within the INVC Bridging Project. Working in a group really helps calm her anxieties as a farmer, because they coach and learn from each other. They also get to sell their produce together so she feels secure as part of a group.
She would hitherto harvest 4 bags from her 0.5 acre plot but now harvests 9 bags from the same land. Why? She notes that she has planted in double rows, has applied the recommended spacing and inoculant. She sees this as a real big improvement. One bag of soya bean sells for 10,000 Kwacha. Out of what she harvests, she only keeps one bag for seed and sells off the rest.
'I am earning more income. I am now able to buy fertilizer for my maize crop ensuring that I get optimum yields for maize too!' she notes.
Sheila wishes that there was a value addition component within the project where they can be trained on processing of soya into milk or oil.
Africa RISING hoiyee!!!
Regis Chikowo and other members of the Africa RISING project team take part in a song and dance by farmers in Duwa Village (Ntubwi EPA), Machinga District.
Piason Chiyasa (white t-shirt) from Mkambali Village was so impressed with Africa RISING interventions. He composed a poem for the project.
Africa RISING: Ndiwe yani mthetsa njala (Africa RISING: What a weapon you are for eradicating hunger!)
- Ndiwe yani mthetsa Njala? (Who are you terminator of hunger?), Ulimi wa zakudya ulimbikitsa (You promote crop production), Mgwilizano wa mayiko ukhazikitsa (Your power has helped unite countries), Zipangizo za ulimi upeleka mosayang’ana nkhope (You are impartial in providing farm inputs), Ulimbikitsa mmayiko amu Africa (Through you, a bond in African nations has been strengthened), Kodi ndiwe yani mthetsa njala? (Who are you terminator of hunger?)
- Africa RISING ndiye dzina langa (Africa RISING is my name), Njala ndiye mdani wanga (Hunger is my enemy), Malamulo a ulimi wamakono ndiye chilimbikitso changa. Ulimi wachakudya ndilimbikitsa kuti njala isiye Phazi mu Africa (I promote improved agricultural technologies in food production to end hunger in Africa), Africa RISING ndiye dzina langa, mthetsa njala (My name is Africa RISING, eradicator of hunger!)