Harness Farms Project

Harnessing agroecological food systems to enhance nutrition, income, market access and food security among smallholder farmers in northern Malawi.

Primary Goal

The overall goal of this project is to advance a sustainable, resilient and equitable food system transformation in Malawi by building local and regional agroecological markets, that long term will aim to improve food security and incomes of small-scale producers, support gender-sensitive small and medium food enterprise development, and increase local consumers’ access to diverse, healthy foods, while sustaining a healthy agro-ecosystem.


Malawi has high levels of food insecurity and poverty, associated with multiple factors and causing several negative outcomes to communities. Three main issues that we have identified and plan to focus on throughout our project include:

  • Low dietary diversity driven by factors including land degradation and climate change
  • Gender inequities in household decision-making and power, which can lead to poor nutrition
  • Limited and low-priced markets for agroecological products causing income insecurity to farmers and their families

Project Design

We will address three main topics through the Harness Farms:

  1. Improve dietary diversity: use participatory education to raise nutritional awareness
  2. Support gender equity: use participatory methods to address gender inequity and promote women empowerment
  3. Develop fair and reliable markets: work with smallholder farmers to improve food production through agroecological methods and finding viable markers

Project participants will include smallholder farmers (women and men), markets managers, small and medium enterprise owners, and urban consumers. The project will be implemented using a participatory approach based on principles of diversity, co-creation, transparent governance, and circular and solidarity economy. We will focus on the Mzimba and Rumphi Districts in northern Malawi.


Overcoming gender-based barriers, finding viable markets and raising nutrition awareness is fundamental to transform food systems for better food and nutrition security outcomes.

Diet diversification and education can help provide improved nutritional education in Malawian communities. Promoting agroecological farming practices may help restore degraded arable lands, restore biodiversity, improve food and nutrition as well as household incomes among smallholder farmers. Addressing women’s empowerment and incomes would address household food security, maternal health and nutrition.

Three interrelated outcomes are expected at the end of the project:

  1. Agroecological farmers will understand the consumer demand for agroecological produce in Malawi
  2. Youth will have learned how to create innovative agroecological businesses.
  3. Equitable markets for agroecological produce will be established


Funding helped ensure the development and implementation of the Harness Farms project! They allow SFHC to research and address our goals in agroecology to maintain healthy agro-ecosystems while supporting Malawian communities.

The funder of the Harness Project is the Biovision Foundation, and this project is implemented through “The Northern Agroecology Collaborative (NAC)”. The NAC is consortium of three Malawian organizations Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC), Slow Food Malawi (SFM) and Biodiversity Conservation Initiative (BCI).