The Agriculture Program at the Community Center for Youth Support (CCYS)
Over 90% of the population in Malawi makes a living by subsistence farming. Bountiful harvests require vast amounts of rainfall, which Malawi has not received recently. Moisture in the soil is the key to a successful harvest, and currently, the local farmers are being introduced to new farming techniques. This new method focuses on no tillage of the land, organic fertilizer and compost-like material to trap moisture in the soil. The program was developed in South Africa, and has been used successfully in several countries surrounding Malawi. Each year, more villagers are accepting this new method.
This method should increase the yield on their crops, although it can take several years to see a significant increase in the yield. Two seasons ago, the center planted its first no-till garden of maize, leveling the land to remove the ridges. Rows of maize seed were then planted every 60cm apart. Along the rows, three seeds were planted in holes 40cm apart. Compost-like material was placed over the soil, providing a blanket that holds in the moisture during all seasons and prevents crop erosion during the hot windy season. Our small maize garden was the best-looking maize in all the areas around Lilongwe. Every village chief in the area came to marvel at the beautiful sight.
Last season, we provided hybrid maize, fertilizer and top dressing to 124 grandmothers so they could have a bountiful crop that would provide the compost-like material that becomes the blanket. There was a bountiful harvest; now this season, the grandmothers are all required to farm using the new farming technique. This season, we will again be providing the same products to an identical number of grandmothers. They, too, will be required to plant accordingly. Each recipient of hybrid seed, fertilizer and top dressing is required to give two 50kg bags of maize to the feeding center at harvest time.
In the near future, we hope to be able to assist neighboring villages in their quest to improve their crop production.