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BB59: Supporting climate-resilient agroecology in Malawi - Ellen Matupi


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The Brussels Development Briefing n. 59 on “Agroecology for Sustainable Food Systems” organised by CTA, the European Commission/EuropeAid, the ACP Secretariat, CONCORD and IPES-FOOD was held on Wednesday 15 January 2020 (9h00-13h00) at the ACP Secretariat, Avenue Georges Henri 451, 1200 Brussels.

The briefing brought various perspectives and experiences on agroecological systems to support agricultural transformation. Experts presented trends and prospects for agroecological approaches and what it implies for the future of the food systems. Successes and innovative models in agroecology in different parts of the world and the lessons learned for upscaling them were also discussed.

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BB59: Supporting climate-resilient agroecology in Malawi - Ellen Matupi

  1. 1. Supporting Climate-Resilient Agroecology in Malawi Ellen Matupi, President, Coalition of Women Farmers in Malawi (COWFA) Brussels Briefing n. 59 on “Agroecology for Sustainable Food Systems” Wednesday 15th January 2020, 9h00-13h00 organized by CTA, ACP Secretariat, European Commission (DG Devco), Concord, IPES-FOOD
  2. 2. Outline • Climate Change Situation in Malawi • 2019 Cyclone Idai Disaster • Women Farmers Specific Challenges • Seed Multiplication • Intercropping • Manure production • Benefits of Agroecology
  3. 3. Climate Change Situation in Malawi • Malawi has been affected by Disasters almost every year for the past few years • Country was hit by EL Nino in 2015/16; Cyclone idai in 2019 • Waste floods, dry spells, fall army worms, land degradation – Government declaring state of emergency
  4. 4. 2019 Cyclone Idai Disaster • In 2019 Malawi was hit by waste floods - Crops and Fields were washed away, people drowned, livestock killed • I was personally affected and lost almost everything – only those crops that were planted upland away from the floods survived. • In 2016 the rains did not come. Crops wilted because there was not enough water and it was too hot. • We also got new pests – Fall Army Worm – it is uncontrollable to date. • So we become food insecure
  5. 5. Women Farmers Specific Challenges • Women farmers do not own land, which means they cannot decide what to plant, because they may not have that land tomorrow • Limited access to agriculture public extension services (1 officer serving over 3000 farmers) • Public Extension not promoting agroecology • Limited participation of women SHFS in decision making processes which result into lack of prioritization of women SHFs needs
  6. 6. Seed Multiplication • Myself and my fellow women farmers from COWFA; • Produce, use, save and share indigenous seeds • We have Individual seed banks • The seeds are promoted and shared among individual farmers and through seed fares • This empowers us (SHWF) to have full control of seeds and what to grow at what time
  7. 7. Seed Multiplication cont.., • SHWF cannot afford to buy seeds (hybrid) every time • Hybrid seeds are expensive and not available on time (to those that use them)
  8. 8. Intercropping • Farming method that COWFA practices • Involves planting or growing more than one crop at the same time and on the same piece of land • This helps to curb the challenge of shortage of land by smallholder women farmers • I own 5 hectares of land growing: 3 hectares- maize, 1-hectare beans, Half soya, Half groundnuts
  9. 9. • These leguminous plants like (including, sugar beans, soya beans) which are nitrogen fixing plants, fertilize the soil naturally • This technology is showcased and shared to fellow women farmers through the seed fairs and learning visits • ActionAid Malawi support us by documenting the best practices and share them widely among smallholder farmers at all levels Intercropping cont..,
  10. 10. Manure Production • We produce manure from crops and animal dungs – cattle, goat and pig • We use this to make compost and apply to the soil, and we let the soil feed the plant • We use mulching – I use dried grass to cover the soil, so that the soil moisture is not lost • Use of traditional knowledge and practices to fight pests ie; fall army worms
  11. 11. Agroecology Manure cont.., • When my friend came to visit, she said “Ellen why are you wasting time to look for fertilisers when you are keeping pigs, cows and chickens?” She told me how to make this manure. I did it and used it and harvested. Today I am still using that. • I have now forgotten about chemical fertilisers!
  12. 12. Agroecology manure cont.., • But this year I wanted to show people in town the benefits of agroecology. • In town I have a small plot of land. I brought manure. All my friends came to look. Now they are all using manure.
  13. 13. Facts About Agroecology • The common assumption that sustainable agriculture or agro-ecological methods are less productive than high-inputs conventional systems is incorrect • I myself have experienced this. • In 2008 I planted my maize. I had no money to buy fertilizer. So my crop failed. There were no natural nutrients in the soil
  14. 14. Benefits of Agroecology • Farmers within the COWFA network, including myself, adopting agro-ecological methods have produced equal and sometimes substantially increased yields per unit area compared to those using conventional methods • I have been working with farmers in the villages for many years. Now they know and are using these practices
  15. 15. Benefits Continue.., • Agroecology is important for women because it is cheap, and we make the manure locally • It preserves soil moisture, which is important for the crop. Without water the crops cannot grow • With chemical fertilizers the soil becomes very hard and difficult for water to enter the soils
  16. 16. Conclusion Thank You Zikomo Asante