Deep Bed Farming

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Work starts in classroom setting
Work starts in classroom setting

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With theory and instructions
With theory and instructions

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Comparison deep bed farming on the right, traditional ridges on the left!
Comparison deep bed farming on the right, traditional ridges on the left!

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Work starts in classroom setting
Work starts in classroom setting

press to zoom
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Click the arrows to see the deep bed farming process...

A joint project with Tiyeni

For many years, the trust has supported a community in a remote and very poor area of Malawi known as Chinyama . This is a good 2 hour drive off the Midima road down a very dusty track.  It is not quite the end of the world but you feel you can see it from there. We have in the past supported children in Chinyama with school fees and trained some adolescents in vocational skills in the hope they would return and help their communities with construction projects. Few of the residents wear shoes and most of the buildings are thatched, a sure sign that the area suffers from deprivation.

Some years ago, Nchima funded a community hall which is routinely used to school kindergarten aged children and for adult literacy classes. It was also used during our latest project as a place that farmers could gather and learn about Tiyeni methods.

Nchima trust has worked with Tiyeni for the past four years, a partnership that has been of considerable benefit to the local population of subsistence farming.  The work  has been greatly facilitated by a gentleman called Namelord who is Tiyeni’s principle instructor in deep bed farming.  The principles include deep digging so that the compacted pan of earth below the surface is broken.  The beds are then made with very careful attention to contouring so that any rain water is trapped between the ridged beds. The farmers ensure that nobody walks on the planting beds so that the soil remains free of compaction and water soaks into the subsoil rather than running off down the hill.  

 

The technique requires collaboration between farmers so it helps maintain community relations as well as helping to get the job done simply by sharing the workload.  Regardless of whether the rains are poor, good or too heavy, the deep bed technique helps to capture rain and reduce the risk of soil erosion. 

Our partnership with Tiyeni has now involved several hundreds of farmers all of who have seen yields increase substantially. 

Apart from the expertise provided by Namelord, the villagers are given goats or pigs so that they can make compost to enrich the soil.  In addition, each participant is provided with a hoe or pickaxe.  The gains have been impressive with almost all farmers estimating at least double the yield at harvest.

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