Multi-actor platform (MAP) members and the InnovAfrica project team made a field visit to Dedza district, one of the InnovAfrica sites in Malawi, in June 2019.

The visit was made to monitor various farmer-led demonstration trials and discuss the results with the participating farmers. The field trials were planted with maize and sorghum, and intercropped with soybeans and groundnuts, using sole crops, as a control.

The crops were grown on raised and flatbed ridges and fertilized with composts made by farmers using different methods.

The different composting methods included: (i) Chimato: a mound-like structure with ingredients of animal manure and household wastes (ii) Pit composting: A pit with a mixture of crop residues, manures from pigs or goats, and top soils harvested from nearby forestland (iii)Manyowa a Bokashi: Composting materials with a mixture of pig manure, maize bran, topsoils harvested from forestland, ashes, leaves of Acacia trees and crop residues, and (iv) Mpanda (also called fence composting): similar to pit compositing in terms of materials used but the difference is that the layers of these materials are above the ground.

Chimato compost preparation
Mpanda composting

The participating farmers expressed that crop yields from the trials were satisfactory. They voiced positive responses to the interventions brought by the InnovAfrica project.

A female farmer said, “Consuming orange maize with legumes is the secret of my better health even at the age of 75.”

Some of the farmers’ challenges included birds attack on sorghum crops and lack of access to markets. However, early planting can reduce crop loss due to bird damage.

Nafsam, one of the MAP members, engaged in agricultural trading, has since shown interest in doing business with the farmers provided that the quantity and quality of agricultural produce is secured sustainably.