Double maize yields for Malawian farmer with conservation agriculture
Daimoniz Miondo is one of 800 farmers in Chipeni, Mvera Extension Planning Area, Dowa District, Malawi, who have adopted conservation agriculture in recent years. “I’m harvesting between 30 and 40 bags of maize now per acre, where I used to get only 15 or 20 bags,” says Miondo, who farms to support a household of seven. “Before conservation agriculture, there was a lot of erosion and the rain would wash away the fertilizer and affect the yields.”
Conservation agriculture is a set of practices that includes eliminating traditional ridge-and-furrow tillage systems, keeping crop residues on the soil, and rotating or intercropping maize with other crops. In addition to labor and cost savings, the improved soil structure resists erosion and increases water infiltration and retention, a huge benefit when drought threatens in places like Malawi, where maize subsists on rain alone.
As well as his rainfed upland maize, Miondo also grows vegetables in a wetland garden known as a "dambo", and raises a small number of goats, pigs, and chickens. When asked if he misses ridging with a hoe, he says: “No! I use my free time to work in the dambo.” He has built a new house with the proceeds and time saved from conservation agriculture, and is building a new chicken coop.
Photo credit: T. Samson/CIMMYT.
For more, see CIMMYT's 2012 e-news story "Conservation agriculture in Malawi: 'We always have problems with rain here'," available online at: www.cimmyt.org/en/front-page-tems/aboutmediaresources/130....