Project Everest

Work Update

Agriculture Assessment - Malawi (Agriculture is Malawi, Agriculture is Life)

Andrew Vild
Andrew Vild | Jul 26, 2017 | in Agriculture Assessment

With the majority of the population being subsistence farmers, agriculture dominates the lives of most Malawians, with much of their time and energy being put into growing, harvesting, cooking and eating maize. Lack of crop rotation removes nutrients from the soil, forcing farmers to depend on expensive fertilisers and causing only one yield per year.

Farming and agriculture are inherent to Malawian lifestyle, culture, and economy.  Eighty percent of the rural population relies on subsistence farming for food and income, meaning their lives - activities, well-being and concerns - revolve around unpredictable climate and inconsistent yields.

Form partnerships with existing agricultural organisations to learn innovative farming techniques, best practices, technological advancements and the intricacies of Malawian culture surrounding agriculture.  Further independent research in this field should be carried out by PE students, as well as the testing of soil samples to understand the state of the land.  The team at a minimum should include a mixture of Agricultural Science and business students, to both understand the agricultural viability and enterprise potential.

Future action should involve the following: conceiving of ways to increase the number of harvests per year (currently only one) potentially through crop renewal/regeneration techniques and drought resistant crops in the dry season; diversifying away from conventional synthetic fertilisers by improving crop rotation to preserve the land, and developing bio-fertilisers made from compost and manure; and, if feasible, finding cost-effective and sustainable ways to provide irrigation in times of drought or sparse rainfall.

As such, the agriculture assessment team will continue to develop Project Everest’s understanding of the growth and distribution of agriculture in Malawi. Understand the access to technology of subsistence farmers, assessing their ability access even an SMS based version of FarmEd, or potential their likelihood to purchase book-based versions of FarmEd (far inferior but potentially valuable to farmers). Understand the major barriers to growth for these farmers (i.e. why cant the farm or yield more).

Examples of simplified version of FarmEd exist, with a successful version in India moving towards Africa and other regions of Asia:

New ideas will be sprouting from the work done in these fields. 

edited on Jul 27, 2017 by Andrew Vild

Soni Lawson Jul 26, 2017

Ag and Social Consulting Assessment


The agriculture assessment team began by looking at the data collected from the December Baseline Assessment. This was to understand the focus areas of their research and to gain an understanding of the information already collected so that we could determine the direction we would be taking this month. Our objectives were to understand the Malawian agriculture system and its relationship with the communities’ economic situation and activities. The team also focused on drafting and testing our surveys for local communities. At this point the team has collected 13 surveys with individuals in the Nancholi village and its surrounding farm areas. During this data collection process constant iteration and refining of the surveys was performed to determine the questions which are most necessary to achieve the team's end goal. Analysis of the results is yet to be performed as the team is still collating and uploading the recorded data. Initial drone imagery of the Nancholi region has been collected and is in the process of being uploaded to develop a 3D map of the area.The focus now is to make contact with stakeholders and set up meetings. So far three emails have been sent to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Foundations For Farming and HUB, the Blantyre Entrepreneur Hub in order to start a conversation on collating our research.


Isaac Crawford Jul 26, 2017

Interesting to see how the relationships with stakeholders have developed from Week 1. Especially considering local government was not even on the radar, and is now a potentially key partner.


Andrew Vild Jul 27, 2017

You're working on this team, stop point hoarding.


View all replies (2)

Isaac Crawford Jul 26, 2017

The Agriculture and Social Consulting team’s key focus of Week 2 was to outline
and identify the weekly and monthly goals of the project. The focus was is to identify
the key issues that Malawian farmers face, the reasons why these issues are
prevalent and understand the agricultural methods that can be used to overcome
these issues. It was also a crucial week in terms of stakeholder contact and
analysis. The team contacted; The Hub Blantyre, a shared entrepreneurial space
in the heart of Blantyre that tackles; UBALE, a USAID funded program addressing
agricultural issues that smallholder farmers face in Malawi; The Malawian
Agricultural Minister and several others. Following this initial contact with
stakeholders the team had a successful meeting with UBALE setting a base for
future collaboration in week 3, while also setting a meeting with the Agricultural
Minister and The Hub for week 3.

The team then gathered more in depth data of the typical Malawian farmer
in villages surrounding Nancholi, creating 5 in-depth farmer profiles. This
surveying highlighted major issues surrounding reliance on fertilisers and
pesticides, as well as a lack of sustainable agricultural practices such as crop
rotation. While in Nancholi soil samples were also collected in order to analyse
the effect the current farming practices have on soil nutrients and health.
Following the data the team collected, we investigated the sources of the
farmer’s fertilisers, pesticides and seeds in order to gain a deeper understanding
of the supply chain in Malawi. This revealed the fluctuation of fertiliser/
pesticide cost that takes place throughout a year.
A further crucial point in the week was the deeper understanding we gained of
the FarmEd and Experimental Farm concepts that we are looking to adapt and
implement in Malawi. This will allow a stronger depth of understanding for
coming meetings with stakeholders in Week 3.

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Roya Ghodsi Jul 26, 2017

Ag and Consulting Assessment

Week 3: JULY 17TH- 21ST

The activities of week 3 were focused primarily on gaining a deeper understanding of the Experimental Farm model in order to prepare the team for pitching the concept to potential stakeholders and to determine action points for the December team.

The team began by collecting information on the specifics of the Experimental Farm blueprint and its implementation in Fiji by a thorough read-through of the Google Drive material and a phone call with Lisa and Zoe Paisley.

From here, the team drafted and iterated a Business Model Canvas for the Experimental Farm, which enabled them to identify key areas that will need to be developed this month in preparation for the Farm’s implementation over the December - February period. These include defining the Farm’s means of funding, estimating the costs of the human and physical resources required, and understanding the specifics of the Farm’s implementation and maintenance process. A more detailed blueprint of the Farm is also required, once the team has identified the 20 varieties of crops most suitable for Malawi and the specific companion planting methods which will maximise their production.

The team further planned and conducted meetings with four major stakeholders. The first was with the Blantyre District Commissioner Bennett Nkasala, who showed keen interest in the Experimental Farm concept and referred the team to the Blantyre District Agriculture Cabinet to further discuss governmental support for the implementation of the Farm.

To further execute on this interest, the team began the process of registering Project Everest as a company in Malawi. They met with a government registrar and a lawyer to understand the framework of company registration in Malawi and begin certification of necessary documents. The process is expected to be completed well before Project Everest returns in December, so that the December team can immediately commence implementation of the Farm as soon as they arrive.

The meeting with Linda Phandi and the Blantyre District Agriculture Cabinet yielded promising results as they expressed a keen interest in Project Everest’s values and direction in the agriculture sector. They are interested in collaboration with Project Everest when we return in December and verbally agreed to provide us an acre plot of land on which to roll out our Experimental Farm. The Ag team is in the process of writing up a Memorandum of Understanding and a proposal to the DADO (District Agriculture Department Officer).

A meeting was also conducted with the World Food Programme, whose programmes shares similar interests to ours in the areas of food security and economic empowerment. There is potential for a future partnership, however this is unlikely to eventuate until early next year when proposals for collaboration open.


Cec Cameron Nov 30, 2017

Really interesting link :)


Amber Johnston Jun 30, 2018

Status label added: Work Update