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Lead Organization:

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa






The overall purpose of the project is to improve food and nutrition security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Malawi. The project will use AEI principles to generate options for resilient and sustainable farming systems and improve farmer capacity to enhance innovation. The team will investigate why some fields are not responsive to legume integration, and develop additional soil fertility management options. It will look at the impacts of farmers’ long-term legume technology trials on soil health. It will facilitate the establishment of FRNs beyond the pilot villages and investigate how they can be effectively scaled out and support innovation to sustainably improve soils and rural livelihoods in different maize-legume farming systems of Malawi. The specific objectives are to:a)  Identify context-specific soil health options for improving soil and crop productivity;b)  Evaluate impacts of maize-legume systems on soil organic matter pools and soil health;c)  Assess the economic and social benefits and costs of different legume options;d) Identify factors facilitating and constraining farmer innovation and collaborative learning in FRN;e) Identify how FRN can facilitate scaling up of soil health options to farmers in diverse contexts; andf) Understand how FRN can facilitate farmer engagement with researchers and policy-makers on AEI. The fourth phase of the project is built around two components that are central to CCRP – maize-legume integration and FRN. Building on findings from previous phases, it will significantly increase knowledge of how legumes plus additional Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) technologies can sustainably improve soils and livelihoods. It will also deepen understanding of how FRN can facilitate farmer-researcher co-creation of AEI technologies relevant to diverse farmer groups, and support scaling of these technologies across the wider famer community. 

Grant Aims:

The overall objective of this project is to improve food and nutrition security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Mzimba, Kasungu and Ntcheu districts of Malawi. The research will lead to the following outcomes:Increased agricultural production and total farm productivityImproved soil healthInnovations meeting farmers’ needs across diverse environmentsFRN scaled out across the 3 target districts with strengthened farmer-researcher-extension collaborationIncreased integration of soil health principles in farming systemsIncreased knowledge of farmers, researchers and policy makers on soil health and FRN. Research outputs will be:Maize-legume technologies for different socioeconomic and biophysical nichesGood agronomic practices for optimizing crop productivity and soil health benefitsKnowledge on how to manage non-responsive soilsUnderstanding of the effects of different ISFM technologies on soil organic matter (SOM) poolsKnowledge on long term change in total SOM and short term change in active soil carbon and other nutrients, with recommendations on strategies for building SOM poolsEconomic, social and environmental assessment of the different legume optionsToolkit on FRN for extension and research stakeholdersParticipation of FRN in local and national forum on ISFM and farmer-led innovationPolicy briefs on FRN and ISFMFive Masters students trained in agroecology, agricultural innovation and natural resource economics; researchers and extension partners trained in FRN and ISFM.