Rebuilding Smallholder Farmers Livelihoods through Agriculture Recovery Project

Background of the Project

Malawi experienced floods from the heavy rainfall received between December, 2014 and January 2015 causing a lot of damage to farmers’ crop and livestock as well as some infrastructure mainly in the Southern districts. An estimated 174,000 people were displaced, with 62 deaths and 153 people missing. By the time a State of Disaster was officially declared, the Department of Surveys had estimated that 63,531 ha of land had been submerged by flood waters as of 13th January 2015. It is estimated that around 116,000 farmers country-wide had been affected with 35,000 ha of cropland impacted.

Farm families in the affected areas suffered from multiple physical, social, and economic livelihoods loss. The affected families were at high risk of being food insecure for the better part of the year till the next growing season if no assistance was provided. In an effort to address the situation, a number of NGOs including Government embarked on resource mobilization in order to assist the affected families. Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) with support from DfID been implementing an Agriculture Recovery Project in Mulanje, Phalombe, Zomba and Machinga districts from February 2015 to July 2015. The project has been extended to October 2015.

The project is targeting farming families that were affected by floods through loss of crop fields, especially maize being the staple food in Malawi. FUM distributed cassava cuttings, sweet potato vines, maize seed, rice seeds, hoes and panga knives to help the affected farm families revert back to agricultural practices for their livelihoods.

Project areas

The project targeted farming families that lost their crops and had access to irrigable land for proper utilization of the planting materials. The following Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) were targeted in the project. Mulanje, Thuchila EPA (16,547); Phalombe, Nkhulambe, Kasongo, Mpinda, Naminjiwa, Waluma and Tamani EPAs (5,614); Zomba, Likangala EPA (1,836); Machinga, Nsanama, Mtumbwi, Nanyumbu, Ngokwe and Domasi EPAs (3,369).

Status of project implementation

The beneficiary registers were compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Irrigation Development officials and the names verified by a team established in each district. The names were later placed in public places for transparency during inputs distribution. The village head or the agriculture officials were present to identify the beneficiaries at each distribution point.

Sweet potato vines were procured and distributed to the affected beneficiaries upon demand. They also received cassava cuttings, maize seed of 5kg each, holes and panga knives. FUM also distributed 15 metric tines of rice seed (3 metric tons of PUSA and 12 metric tons of Kilombero) to 5,000 beneficiaries in irrigation schemes in both Zomba and Machinga.

As early as March 2015, harvest of sweet potato had started for those that planted in February. Farmers are currently raising income from the sale of sweet potatoes. This has assisted the families in terms of food security since they use it as food while the sweet potato leaves are also used as relish which provides the necessary nutrients to the family.

In line with the objective of the project, some families have already propagated their fields with the sweet potato vines from the seed multiplication plots but also from the field whose crop has matured and is being harvested.

Visible Milestones of the Project

The project benefits among the affected families are evident with the harvest of the mature sweet potatoes which has provided options for diversified food consumption at household level. Some affected families are able to raise income from the sale of harvests. Seed multiplication plots have been established and this will provide farmers with adequate seed for the coming growing season. Already seed propagation is taking place in a number of project areas.