Soils, Food and Healthy Communities

Soils, Food and Healthy Communities

Farmer promoters have been out in the field all week, doing teaching and demonstrating of legume crop residue burial in the new participating villages. The promoters visited all 20 villages, and did teaching on nitrogen fixation, the role of legume residue in improving the soil, and the importance of early incorporation. Some of their training built on a workshop on legumes and nitrogen fixation they had with Mary Parr, a collaborating graduate student, earlier this year. In some of the villages they visited, farmers had already incorporated the residue, which was exciting to observe.

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Emmanuel Chilanga, a Masters student of geography at Western University, is coming to Ekwendeni this May to study the impacts of our participatory nutrition program, particularly recipe days, on household gender roles and child care practices. Emmanuel is a Malawian student funded through the McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program, and his supervisor is Dr. Rachel Bezner Kerr. Emmanuel has been examined the literature on the division of labour and decision-making more broadly, and wants to apply theories of why people change household roles to the Ekwendeni context. He is looking forward to working closely with the SFHC team to understand how the participatory nutrition education program works, and what families learn when they participate in recipe days.

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Dr. Raj Patel is a renowned scholar, writer and activist on food issues, and has published a well-known book “Stuffed and Starved” about global food inequalities. In a recent hour long program on the Canadian Broadcasting Radio radio program ‘Ideas’,(http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2012/04/20/feeding-ten-billion-1/) Dr. Patel discussed global food problems and possible solutions. Starting at the 32 minute mark, Dr. Patel discusses the recent history of agriculture in Malawi, and our work of SFHC is highlighted at the 40 minute mark as being a potential and exciting solution to food insecurity in the Global South.

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We had many farmers, researchers, Ministry of Agriculture officials and hospital staff attend our field day in mid-March. Dr. Kanyama-Phiri and Dr. Patson Nalivata visited, along with many farmers from Ntcheu, and some visitors from an IDRC-funded project in Tanzania. Visitors were able to visit a variety of crops in the field, including sorghum, cowpea and doubled-up legumes, several people gave speeches at the end of the day, and there was a meal shared after the field day.

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