Namikango Mission

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Conservation Agriculture

Mar 24, 2020

The Namikango Mission is situated on the beautiful 90-acres in Thondwe, Malawi (Southern region).

Because of deforestation, ours is the only natural forest plot remaining in our area - as you can see on the Google Earth photo…(the area within the green trees line is our property)…

Our goal is to be effective and faithful with the land, using it for productive agriculture practices and training of rural Malawian farmers.Our efforts in agriculture provide income-generation and training of Malawian farmers . . . these generally overlap.

Income Generation:

a. Coffee Farm & Roasting (10 acres)
b. Soya Farm (15 acres)
c. Cassava Farm (12 acres)

Training Local Farmers:

a. Lead Farmers: 3-year training(Conservation Agriculture & Agroforestry)
b. Farming God’s Way demo plot
c. Permaculture site

Coffee Farm
The 10-acre coffee farm was begun in 2014 and has justexperienced its first harvest in 2019. The total beans harvested were1760 lbs. We dry and process the coffee beans then roast them with a beautiful fluid bed roaster and are prepared to launch coffee to thepublic later this year. We employ 11 local farmers with this project fulltime. A primary goal is to have a sustainable business with the capacityof income from this to fund other farming-related programs. The projections are favorable to get this done, though this will be our first test.

Challenges: While we love the potential with coffee, it is labor intensive and will be difficult to maintain optimal producing conditions. We’ve already had some setbacks from pests and draught due to a failing water well.

Soya Farm
We have grown Soya for a long time; it is a primary cash crop in Malawi. This year, we did more than usual in hopes of landing a good profit to fund our Lead Farmers Training Program. We harvested roughly 7,490 lbs of Soya. If the predicted price is met, we will make a net profit of of $4,000 on this lot, which will fund our Lead Farmers Program for 2020.

Cassava Farm
We planted Cassava because it is one of the heartiest crops there is. It grows almost like a weed requiring very little water and yet is very nutritious. We planted just over 12 acres last year. An extra benefit isto teach others that it is a low-cost food alternative to Maize. Most Malawians don’t plant Cassava because they don't know much about it. This season the price of Maize went up 300% when the government announced that “Malawi government supply is out of Maize.” This is unfortunate for many because Maize is the primary food source for most people. Because of this, people are now coming to us for information on Cassava and how to grow it.

Cassava is produced by planting a short stalk from a Cassava plant.The stalk quickly produces branches upward and roots and Cassava bulbs underground. …it’s quite a plant.

Lead Farmer Training
This is our most beneficial agricultural program. It is a training program stretched over three years. It began with 125 trainees from various locations. This program requires a lot of time and dedication.Because of our requirements, we are now down to 35 lead farmer trainees. If anyone did not complete the work assigned, they were dropped from the program. The ones that remained are very passionate about conservation agriculture and are doing an exemplary job on their own plots at home. Most of them have doubled their yields! It is very gratifying to see that the program works this well. This year is the final phase of this program where we will probably graduate 25 and will set them up as the primary lead famers in their churches and areas where they will be able to teach others.

Farming God’s Way – Demo Plot
A one-acre demo plot on campus is set up for demonstration and training. It is done with conservation agriculture principles and is thesize of a nornal rural village farm. This plot when properly used should supply a family of four enough food and vegetables for a year.

We host a number of gatherings/viewings/trainings with this plot every year.

Permaculture Site
The newest program that is gearing up right now is a permaculture site on campus. The goal is to expand our teaching abilities to including training in forestry, fish keeping, and livestock. This can add value via fertilizer and meat, spices/herbs products. We are applying to be accepted as one of three approved permaculture sites in Malawi and will be an income-generating site, able to issue official permaculture certifications. We will also have site visits on campus.

by Ryan Hayes