Nurture soil as our food and climate insurance

Kassim Massi and Joyce Makawa have learned how conservation agriculture nurtures the soil of their 2.5-acres farm in Lemu, Malawi, and helps them to better cope with regular dry spells and storm rains. With four children and two grandchildren, their livelihoods depend on rainfed crop farming, in particular maize, the main staple in Malawi, and a few goats and free-range poultry. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) introduced them to conservation agriculture, along with five other families in their community.

“I have learnt a lot from this experiment. I can see that with crop rotation, mulching and intercropping I get bigger and healthier maize cobs. The right maize spacing, one seed at the time planted in a row, creates a good canopy which preserves the soil moisture in addition to the mulch effect,” Massi explains. “The mulch also helps to limit water runoff when there are heavy rains. I don’t see the streams of mud flowing out of this plot like for my other field where I only planted maize as usual on ridges,” he adds.