Additional land to sow, targeted trainings, and market security mean higher incomes for smallholders
In Mchinji district, a rural area near the Zambian border in central Malawi, farmers normally work small plots of land of less than one hectare, growing maize, soybeans and groundnuts for food and to sell at local markets.
But if someone wanted to try and improve their yields or prevent pest attacks or ensure a buyer at harvest time, there was little recourse.
Now, following a recently completed pilot "anchor farm" project spearheaded by the National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi (NASFAM), we know circumstances can be improved.
"Land is a very limited resource in Malawi. The anchor farm provides extra land for the farmer to be able to produce more. But more than that, farmers are also able to grow a crop that they wouldn’t be able to on their normal farm," said NASFAM Executive Director Betty Chinyamunyamu.
This translates into additional money for farmers, with average incomes more than doubling for those cultivating groundnuts, going from approximately MK 35,000 (US$48) in 2014 to 100,000 (US$138) in 2016. For soybeans, the increase was even more dramatic, going from MK 24,000 to MK 154,000 over the same time period.
And, the experience growing different crops could mean even more earnings into the future.