> Our Malawi Farm Project
Our Malawi Farm Project
We say a community should be a better place for having one of our businesses in it, and we’re confident this is the case. In 2014 we felt we could spread our community spirit a little further and began to research how we could help a community in one of the poorest countries of the world and our Malawi project was born.
The project, which we call Community Farm Malawi project, also has another name – Mwana Alirenji, which means “where there is lack of nothing” in Chichewa, which can be more directly translated to “self-sufficiency”.
By 2020 we’d like to have worked with 1,000 farmers in the Ntcheu District of Malawi to reduce extreme poverty and food insecurity through permaculture.
Permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems, intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient and we, and our partners, believe this is crucial for the future of farming in this region.
Our Mwana Alirenji project is made possible thanks to the support of our businesses, our charity community and the invaluable support of the Co-operative College, based in Manchester, and Kusamala Insitute of Agriculture and Ecology, based in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Together we’re focussed on developing three key areas:
1. Low external input farming techniques
Our training involves low external input organic production and consumption at household level, which means farmers make the most of resources and have access to safer food which will result in improved health and nutrition. Agroforestry, where trees are introduced alongside farming fields, also increases farming biodiversity and food resources. Trees draw water to dry areas which improves the existing soil system.
2. Enterprise and business
We also promote the development of co-operative enterprise. Co-operatives are an effective tool for self-help. There is also support in joining and saving together, with village savings and loans initiatives promoting a saving culture among the farmers.
3. Cross cutting issues
Although we believe that more sustainable farming methods are a real means of self-help for the farmers and their families, we also recognise that work to alleviate poverty has to involve some fundamental topics. Additional training for issues such as HIV awareness, gender equality and health and wellbeing is also provided.”
We feel very passionately that this project is more than just writing a cheque and walking away. We have a dedicated project manager and twice a year we pay for colleagues to visit the farming communities to show their support and see the great achievements being made. This is not an “us and them” scenario, the learning is mutual and the journey remains with our colleagues for a long time afterwards, with many describing ‘a life-changing experience’.
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