Malawi’ s smallholder agriculture is facing a crisis, particularly in the more populated south. There is an insidious combination of land shortage, continuous cultivation of maize, declining soil fertility, low yields, deforestation, poverty and high population growth rate. Smallholder farmers are doing what they can to maintain household livelihoods under these difficult circumstances, however many of their actions, which are necessary for short term survival, such as the cultivation of hillsides, are not sustainable in the long term. Smallholder farmers have shown themselves keen to transform their farming towards a sustainable system; however, to do this on the necessary scale they will need a combination of:resource conserving technologies: including: incorporating more legumes into the rotation, particularly Magoye soya bean; interplanting with trees such as Faidherbia albida; aligning ridges with A frames and planting Vetiver hedges; relay planting with N fixing plants (such as Tephrosia); planting multipurpose trees in hedgerows, around homesteads etc; improved two year fallows; diversification, especially growing some burley tobacco local institutional development: effective community instititions, the managed transfer of responsibility for natural resource management from Government to community, with support for long-term strategies more enabling environment: reducing the fertilizer:maize price ratio; better research/extension; revised land tenure regulations; cash for work; off-farm employment; relocationThe full text of the six country reports is also available online
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