Twenty Years of Agroecology: Mapping SFHC’s Impact

For twenty years, we have been working here in Northern and Central Malawi. We are very proud of the work we’ve done: a participatory approach to agroecological farming to improve nutrition, livelihoods and equity. And since 2000, we have reached over 10, 000 farmers!

Our staff and volunteers hear by word of mouth about the change we’re making, and we’ve published our results in leading scientific journals. We hear that farmers are still sharing what they’ve learned through SFHC — they’re farming differently, sharing new seed and spreading knowledge. Yet we lacked a critical way of understanding change: maps!

A snapshot from our project report: percentage of participating farmers using seven different agroecological practices. As you can see, they’re heavily in use!

That’s why in 2018, we were delighted to receive funding from the McKnight Foundation for the Mapping Agroeocology Project. In addition to a survey and qualitative interviews, we partnered with Dr. Isaac Luginaah and PhD student Daniel Kpienbaareh of Western University to create a spatial analysis of farmers’ experiences with SFHC programs. They trained farmers and SFHC staff to use GPS and GIS technologies in order to map out where seeds were being spread, when and how information was shared, using a sample of 600 farmers who participated in the MAFFA project. Most of this data was collected in 2019, and it’s still being analyzed, but here’s a snippet of what’s to come:

A cross-section of seed sharing networks in Mzimba district.

We are thrilled to see the final results of the spatial analysis. We’re already very encouraged by the results of our survey: for example, we’ve learned that a whopping 99% of participating farmers are still using agroecological practices. We also asked about the gaps in our program — what farmers wished they’d known and learned about. We are planning to use this information with the mapping component in order to better understand how we are having an impact, and ultimately to develop new training programs. Stay tuned for more maps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *