Investing in small holder agriculture in Malawi to improve performance by scaling up conservation agriculture


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This presentation by Prof. Sosten Chiotha and others, LEAD, describes the landscape mosaic in Malawi, why investing in conservation agriculture and off-farming activities is a must and how we can rethink investment.

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Investing in small holder agriculture in Malawi to improve performance by scaling up conservation agriculture

  1. 1. Investing in small holder agriculture in Malawi to improve performance by scaling up conservation agriculture Prof., Sosten Chiotha*, Dr Dalitso Kafumbata, Dr Daniel Jamu, Mathews Tsirizeni, & Welton Phalira *Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD), Zomba, Malawi
  2. 2. Landscape mosaic in Malawi  Landscape mosaic, gradually more fragmented(last 100 yrs),  Agriculture, human settlements, main cause of fragmentation  1991-1973 forest cover decline: 45 to 25.3 % and continues  High population growth, the main driver of landscape change  Population trebled to13 million (1966 to 2008), projected growth rate is 2.9%
  3. 3. Declining natural resource base 84 % employment natural resource based: agriculture, forestry, fishery are key sectors  All 3 sectors declining in productivity due to unsustainable practices  More than 40% smallholders own <0.5ha, average farm size is 0.28ha  Farming system is essentially low input and low output  Fallow, crop rotation, mixed cropping, integrated with livestock production are limited or non – existent 
  4. 4. Investing in conservation agriculture a must!!! Climate change has made the situation worse : erratic rainfall, prolonged dry spells and other extreme weather events Severely degraded landscapes with diminishing ES leave many rural communities in persistent food shortages and poverty
  5. 5. Investing in conservation agriculture a must!!!  CA is one approach to address the challenges to achieve sustainable production and improve livelihoods  Uptake of CA is low to achieve scale of restoring ecosystem services  Investment through the small-holder households, likely to break the vicious cycle of environmental degradation, low agricultural production and poverty
  6. 6. Arable land per capita decline vs Cereal demand/supply
  7. 7. Land cover decline over 20 years
  8. 8. An example of a plot under conservation agriculture
  9. 9. Need for investment into off-farm activities to shift unsustainable use of marginal and fragile ecosystems
  10. 10. Estates in southern Malawi showing intensity of production, hedgerows and forest reserve as required by law for estates. Also notice land under fallow The small holder tea farmers belong to an association and hence there is potential for investment in addressing small holder land use challenges to achieve scale at landscape
  11. 11. Contrasting land uses by small holder farmers and estates in southern Malawi Land use by small holder farmers. Notice the small landholdings, the variation in crop density/quality, location of trees, human settlements
  12. 12. Rethinking investment  Government: move from input-subsidies to more integrated incentives that support landscape sustainability(e.g. PES, sustainable rural economic growth)  Private sector: support value addition, viable cooperatives of small-holders,  Banks & lenders: providing small-holders with better access to financial services (savings, credit, etc.)  Donors/development partners: more flexibility in approach to address difficult trade offs small holder farmers make that compromise landscape quality of services( essential for long-term livelihoods)
  13. 13.  WLE: Acknowlegdements Support to attend GLF  Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation programme: supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Malawi.  ASSETS: supported by ESPA UK through DFID  Participatory GIS in Malawi. Donors/development partners: Funded by IDRC  Population and climate change: Funded by Population Action International  Malawi state of Environment and outlook report