Soils, Food and Healthy Communities

Soils, Food and Healthy Communities

As of December, SFHC and other partners have completed seed distribution to the 4000 new participating households of the MAFFA (Malawi Farmer-to-Farmer Agroecology) project. This year’s seed included a range of varieties of pigeon pea, groundnut (peanut), bambara groundnut, beans, and for the first time, finger millet! Finger millet, a drought tolerant and nutritious grain, is pest resilient and useful for years of inconsistent rain, and good for combating child malnutrition.

We based our selections on what we learned from the seed fairs held in August. Fairs were held in both locations (Lobi and Ekwendeni), where farmers brought and displayed their preferred local varieties of several crops. An informal discussion was conducted to decide which varieties farmers were most interested in, and once we had chosen which ones to distribute, households selected their preferences. This is the first year that we have been able to learn from farmer knowledge through the seed fairs, and we are excited to see the results in the coming season.

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In January, young collaborating researcher Sidney Madsen will be traveling to Malawi to study and evaluate MAFFA’s participatory methods. She will also be working to set up a new participatory system of Monitoring and Evaluation for our project. One of our objectives for the MAFFA project is to expand and improve our participatory approach within the Farmer Research Team (FRT) and throughout broader project management (Objective 2 of MAFFA project). We are working towards inclusive processes with the FRT groups contributing to the project, in order to create a socially just, participatory, democratic method of project organization. Sidney will be spending seven weeks in Malawi, visiting both locations, Lobi and Ekwendeni during her stay. Her visit and research is funded by the grant from the Canadian government as well as funds from Dr. Bezner Kerr at Cornell University. Safe travels, Sidney!

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