Conservation Agriculture

About

We at Bridges to Malawi have met some remarkable people who are now advising us about the best ways to help the poor subsistence farmers of the Kasungu East District in Malawi get better crop yields in as sustainable manner as possible. They recommended that we encourage “no-till” or “limited till” agriculture. This includes the use of mulch (not commonly done in Malawi), which provides more organic material for the soil, traps more moisture in the soil, and reduces weed proliferation. In addition, we have successfully introduced the Magoye Ripper. The Ripper is designed to minimize the amount of soil disturbed as crops are planted, thus limiting topsoil and moisture loss. We plan to conduct a study intended to convince the local farmers of the benefits of such changes in technique. Each ripper will cost about $100. We will replace all of our current plows with these and use them exclusively in all donations to aid farmers in the future. We hope to have them locally made by a blacksmith or two as a way of aiding the local economy, something we always strive to do. As part of our desire to change agricultural practices in the Kasungu East District, we will be paying for an agricultural expert soon to be hired by K2TASO, to help ensure that we carry out our projects in as effective and culturally acceptable a manner as possible.

Magoye Ripper

Bamboo

Planting bamboo can help combat deforestation, but also has other benefits. It can be used as animal fodder or in construction. While not ideal, bamboo charcoal can also be a fuel source that is cleaner than some of the alternatives.

As of 2019, 3400 of the 5800 seeds we planted have germinated and are currently being planted. In 2020, we hope to add an additional 10,000 plants.

Some of the 6,000 bamboo seedlings imported to Malawi from Zambia to be distributed to local farmers.
Achievements as of July 28, 2020

6,000 bamboo plants will be imported from Zambia at the end of August for donation to farmers at a cost of $15,000.  This is in addition to the 4200 bamboo plants we have already given away grown from seeds purchased last year.

January 29, 2021

Almost all of the 6,000 bamboo plants we donated have survived after being planted in a number of villages.


Hydroponics

As of 2020, we are planning to introduce around 4-5 closed hydroponic systems. These systems will provide a means of growing animal fodder and crops without farmers having to worry about weather conditions or soil quality. Hydroponics can help combat climate change by using less water than traditional farming and less land, due to their ability to be built vertically.

Looking further into the future, we hope that aquaponics can play a role as well.

March 22, 2021

The pictures below show a demonstration of our new hydroponic system and greenhouse. Our plan is to familiarize the people of the area with this concept, and then provide smaller versions to interested farmers in the future.


Reforestation

Achievements as of July 28, 2020

Peter is in the process of planting 200,000 tree saplings at a cost of $6500.  This will add to the over 70,000 trees which have survived from prior years of our reforestation.

November 29, 2020

Target communities are ready for this year’s reforestation project. The images below show some of community members caring for tree nurseries.

January 29, 2021

90% of the 200,000 saplings donated by us for reforestation have been planted.