Take AIM: Agro-ecological Intensification in Malawi through action research with smallholder farmers

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Presented by Regis Chikowo, Robbie Tichardson, Sieg Snapp (MSU), Wezi Mhango, Fanny Chigwa, Agness Mangwela (LUANAR), Isaac Nyoka (ICRAF), Sileshi
(ICRAF), Desta Lulseged (CIAT), Owen Kumwenda and Anilly Msukwa (DAES) at the Africa RISING East and Southern Africa annual review and planning meeting,
Lilongwe, Malawi, 3-5 September 2013

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Take AIM: Agro-ecological Intensification in Malawi through action research with smallholder farmers

  1. 1. Take AIM: Agro-ecological Intensification in Malawi through action research with smallholder farmers Regis Chikowo, Robbie Tichardson, Sieg Snapp (MSU); Wezi Mhango, Fanny Chigwa, Agness Mangwela (LUANAR); Isaac Nyoka and Sileshi (ICRAF), Desta Lulseged (CIAT), Owen Kumwenda and Anilly Msukwa (DAES) Africa RISING East and Southern Africa annual review and planning meeting, Lilongwe, Malawi, 3-5 September 2013
  2. 2. Background - the project recognizes that  There are action-learning and systems approaches that have been proven effective, yet they have rarely been applied at scale  Knowledge transfer mechanisms that broadly work across: ofarmer typologies and oagro-ecologies
  3. 3. Worrying facts  management recommendations generally at variance with local farmer circumstances (consideration of agricultural risks, resource constraints and farmer production objectives)  The levels of labor, fertilizer, manure demanded are often far beyond the capabilities of all but the wealthiest households Wealthy farmers <10% (Shepherd and Soule, 1998, Mapfumo and Mtambanegwe, 2005; Tittonell et al., 2005, 2011; Zingore et al, 2007)
  4. 4. Alarming yield gaps ?? Crop Actual yields (t/ha) Attainable yields (t/ha) Maize 1 4+ Soyabean 0.6 1.8+ Groundnut 0.5 1.5+
  5. 5. Closing the yield gaps:  Requires knowledge assimilation by farmers through simple pathways  Plausible approaches include learning by doing – farmers empowered through experimentation (NO TO DEMONSTRATIONS ONLY) …….. Why ? – the very poor often left out, no opportunity for hands-on innovating, elitist and top-down, scientists in total control and fulfilling their fantasies, farmers by-standers, etc
  6. 6. Riding on our past experiences  The mother and baby approach as a learning and agricultural technologies transfer platform  Farmers at all levels identify with the approach (scientists coming down to earth without compromising scientific rigor)  The philosophy - co-learn with farmers through a basket of technologies on ‘mother’ trials, while concurrently ‘variants’ of elements within these are acceptable at farmers’ ‘baby’ fields
  7. 7. Snapp, 1998 ‘Mother and baby’ trial design
  8. 8. What we did during 2012/13 season Intervention site ‘Section’ Village cluster 1 Mother Trial A 40-60 baby trials Village cluster 2 Mother Trial B 40-60 baby trials
  9. 9. What we plan to do in 2013/14 .... consolidate and expand ..............>> Intervention site ‘Section’ Village cluster 1 (old) Mother Trial A 80 baby trials Village cluster 2 (old) Mother Trial B 80 baby trials Village cluster 3 (new) Mother Trial C 80 baby trials > 900 directly experimenting farmers
  10. 10. Farmers experimented with….  Grain legumes (cowpea, groundnut, soyabean, common bean, pigeonpea)  Different crop mixtures maize/legume intercrops Legume –legume intercrops (doubled-up legume technology based on different crop growth habits/architecture  Different soil nutrient mangement regimes (organic-inorganic nutrient resources, and their combinations
  11. 11. Diversification…intensification  Crop diversification as one of the major themes of the ‘mother and baby’ approach
  12. 12. Doubled-up legumes – intercropping 2 legumes that have little competition for resources
  13. 13. Exposing farmers to agric intensification technologies ......
  14. 14. Poor but happy at last ..
  15. 15. ... she has the energy
  16. 16. Could it be too difficult to interpret his thoughts..
  17. 17. ... and MSU administrators came to the field in Malawi to see our AR intensification ideas at work Provost
  18. 18. Outputs  We have effectively secured buy-in from partners in projects sites (DAES, DC office, NGOs)  Successfully established 4 action research sites (Linthipe, Golomoti, Kandeu and Nsipe)  Held a farming systems and modeling workshop for partners in Malawi (spiced by some 3 participants from Ghana and Mzee Mateete)  Recently held nutrition workshops in the action sites
  19. 19. Food and nutritional security
  20. 20. Africa RISING Nutrition open days workshops
  21. 21. Africa RISING Nutrition workshops & open days
  22. 22. Biochemistry with smallholder farmers in Malawi! Production of soyabean flour for nutritious soya porridge! (mixture of soya, groundnut and maize)
  23. 23. The Ntcheu DC in support of healthy communities through Africa RISING
  24. 24. Lessons learnt Appropriate selection of pigeon pea varieties essential for success in mixed crop-livestock systems – long duration varieties likely to be damaged by goats during July/August Despite repeated explanations, a good proportion of farmers can not separate R4D activities and Development programs – this leads to ‘excessive’ demands on free inputs – seed, fertilizers, etc.
  25. 25. What worked Farmers in intervention sites take ownership of the project Farmer experimenting (and innovating) DAES as convenors of R4D platforms
  26. 26. What did not work Intensive field soil surveys completed but soil analysis lagging behind Ideally this should contribute to informing our next steps Livestock component not prioritized during Year 1. We have added relevant skills onto the research team for 2013/14 and beyond
  27. 27. What are the opportunities for this ?..
  28. 28. Dry bones can live again ...
  29. 29. Zikomo Kwambili Asante Sana Merci beaucoup Thank you Dank U Tatenda Amphope
  30. 30. Thank you
  31. 31. Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation africa-rising.net

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