Members of the Malawi InnovAfrica multi-Actor Platform (MAPs) and participating farmers from the six participating villages in Malawi converged for a field day on 4th April 2018. MAPS Members who came included a representative of farmer markets association called National Association of Farmers in Malawi (NASFAM), District Agricultural Development Officer (DADO), Traditional Authority Kachere, Chair of the Kachere Area Development Committee (ADC), Extension planning Area (EPA) Extension Coordinator, (AEDC). There were 71 farmers, of which 55 were women and 41 were men. The field day meetings took place near the plots in the villages to help with easy viewing of the plots.
The main aim of the field day was to showcase how the cereal legume intercropping plots were doing in the different areas. Malawi experiments intercropping on cereals and legumes. These include maize, millet and sorghum, and beans, soy bean and groundnuts.
Three gardens were visited. The first belonged to Mrs. Kela Harrison. In it, the orange maize and beans intercrop was showcased. “I prepared the garden by August, 2017. I planted in October the same year. The rains started to come on 10th December. I started to plant on 12th December”, Mrs. Harrison said.
However, because of different agroecological zones within the area, the germination of the crops varied. While celebrating the healthy crop in one plot, Mrs. Harrison bemoaned the dry spells in the other zone for poor growth. This affected her sorghum and beans garden experiment.
In another field, belonging to the Mariko household, the intercrop of sorghum and soybean flourished. The plot intercropped sorghum, and maize, with soy beans, and common beans. The Soy bean was planted with an inoculant and has done well.
However, it was observed that the sorghum is being eaten by birds and suggestions were made to address this problem. People suggested of using sticking gum from trees to trap the birds, and coating the sorghum plant with its leaves so that the birds are unable to reach the seed.
Commenting on the occasion, Village Lead farmer Florida Jordan from Maya Village said, “In one acre if you plant three types of crops it is like you have planted on a 3-acre land”. She said she was very grateful for being one of the Lead farmers benefiting from InnovAfrica project. She appreciated the innovation of intensification through intercropping which promised bigger harvest compared to the previous years.
The MAPs members commented on what they had seen. The NASFAM representative Mr. Wicliff Kumwenda congratulated the farmers for their willingness to try the technologies. Furthermore, he urged them to join cooperatives to take advantage of the markets that NASFAM operates. “Each one of the crop you grow here has a market”, Mr. Kumwenda said.
In closing, team member of the Malawi InnovAfrica research team, Mangani Katundu encouraged the farmers to keep up the good work. He stated that RAB Processors Malawi, a food products handling company has shown interest in providing a market for the produce.