Malawi has begun its four-year ‘fertiliser trees’ project to reduce the reliance of subsistence farmers on expensive fertilisers.
The Agro-forestry Food Security Programme has received €1 million (US$1.4 million) in funds from the government of Ireland and commenced last month (September) to coincide with the rainy season.
under the programme, farmers are being encouraged to plant particular shrubs with their crops to improve the soil through nitrogen fixation.
France Gondwe, of the World Agroforestry Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi, said the project is scaling up a farming practice that over 100,000 Malawian farmers had been using for the last ten years.
ICRAF has allocated the Irish funding to key national partners in the programme, including Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Forestry, and Bunda College of Agriculture, a constituent college of the University of Malawi and Mzuzu University.
These partners are mobilising and training farmers on care of seeds and seedlings, and how to establish and manage nurseries, said Festus Akinnifesi, Malawi representative of ICRAF Southern Africa.Gliricidia sepium, one of thetrees used in the project
Akinnifesi said the programme is using tens of tonnes of tree seeds procured by the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi and the Department of Land Resource Conservation Centre.
Brown Mang Onwuka