Project Everest

Work Update

Week one for the Ag team in Malawi

by
Daniel Hill
Daniel Hill | Jan 6, 2018 | in Agriculture Assessment

Week one started fast for the agriculture team here in Malawi, with the team taking community members from the Nancholi region to the experimental farm in Nsambudzi on the first day of Project. The Nancholi region has been highly involved in the empathising and ideate stages of the experimental farm blueprints over last July and December, and even offered a plot of land for the experimental farm back in July. Despite not using this plot of land in Nancholi, it is important to continue to maintain relationships with the Nancholi community to make clear our commitment to keeping them involved as the Project and experimental farm progresses. Hence we decided to bring them to see the farm so we could explain to them its purpose and a basic outline of its structure. Activities like this help foster a collaborative learning environment between PE and different local communities.

 

This time also allowed the team to assess the progress of the experimental farm from December. Success was observed with the maize and legumes, where they had germinated and were growing as expected . However, some of vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and eggplant had failed to germinate or were struggling to grow. Other issues such as weeds, pests, pathogens and rainfall were also noted as concerns we have going into the next few weeks.

 

Considering these issues, the focus of this week has been how to best repair these beds, mitigate further problems in the near future, and continue to refine the long-term plan for the farm. Given that crops take months before the success of their growth can be assessed, this is especially important so that future teams are left with results that can be used to iterate the blueprint effectively. Currently, the farm is experimenting with companion farming and permaculture techniques, such as maize, pumpkin leaves and legume mixes. However, in the future it is hoped to iterate on this with a second phase of crop rotation, integrated pest management and different bed structures.

 

This long-term plan requires greater consultation with the rural farming communities. We therefore aim to conduct surveys with 50 farmers over the course of the month. The focus of this empathising will not only be to further understand their current diets and farming practices, but also what they would like to improve given the opportunity. This will allow for future iterations of the experimental farm beds to better suit the local communities, whilst also allowing for the development of the business model we are offering to the farmers. Given that this business model currently includes a blueprint, a consultancy service and a distribution service which guarantees a buyer for surplus produce, understanding what aspects are most important and if they are able/willing to pay are vital to further iterate this model for the rural Malawi communities.

 

We’re looking forward to getting into contact with the Timor, Cambodia and Fiji teams to discuss different aspects of maintaining, measuring and progressing the farm, as well as further developing the business model.

Amber Johnston Jun 30, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

Reply

Share