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 Malawi Community Farm 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 around 1,000 smallholder 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.
We’ve created the project because we’re passionate about good food for all and because caring about others sits at the heart of our business. Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, so to be able to apply our expertise to the important pursuit of food security in Malawi is a powerful use of our knowledge and skills.
We’re focused 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’. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter to hear our latest news from Malawi – we’ll keep you posted!
For our latest news on Malawi and our colleague volunteers click here.Learn More