FRN–NGO operates in Kenya’s lake zone, one of the most densely settled parts of the country and a region where poverty, natural resource degradation, and food insecurity levels are high. Challenges include scarce land and water resources, declining soil productivity, high pest and disease incidences, changing climatic conditions, and limited access to resources for women, who are the main drivers of agricultural production. People are highly dependent on farming for their livelihoods, and rains are becoming less predictable and crop failures more frequent.
Productivity on smallholder farms in Malawi is generally very low. Yields of the main subsistence crop, maize, are substantially below what could be achieved with improved crop management. Soil fertility is declining, so the productive capacity of farms is being eroded. Low incomes mean that few farmers can afford to purchase inorganic fertilizer, and the number of them benefitting from government input subsidies has fallen drastically. Individual land holdings are small and, in many areas, only one crop can be grown per year. Erratic rainfall—floods and dry spells—also has an impact on crop production. As a result, a large number of people do not produce enough food to meet their needs. So, too, do they lack diversity in their diets, which adversely affects the health of farm families. The incidence of stunting in children under 5 years of age averages 46 percent.