Food insecurity occurs when someone doesn’t have reliable access to enough nutritious food to lead a healthy and active life. When it takes someone’s full effort just to feed themselves and their families, so much else in life is lost.

For many farmers around the world, food security is a struggle. In fact, 70 percent of those who experience hunger are food producers. Factors like the deteriorating climate, limited access to farming inputs and poor infrastructure in many communities mean the situation continues to get worse.

Ida James lives in Nkaya, Malawi. She relies on farming to feed her family, but also to provide an income to purchase other necessities for herself and her three children. Her one-acre plot of land used to produce low yields. She sold the few vegetables she could spare to travelling vendors who did not pay her what they were worth. Most days, she and her family were food insecure.

Ida James stands on her farming plot surrounded by plants that are flourishing thanks to conservation agriculture.

Ida heard about a program devoted to strengthening food production coordinated by PWS&D’s partner CARD—Churches Action in Relief and Development. At first, she was skeptical that conservation agriculture methods could increase her farm yields while also improving the health of her land.

Setting aside a small section of her property on which to use the new techniques, Ida tested intercropping, the use of compost and mulch, and steered clear of tilling in order to keep the soil healthy. Through the program, she received seeds for maize, sorghum, cow peas, sweet potato and onions, which she planted on this fortified soil.

At the end of the season, Ida was pleased to notice a 50 percent increase in the productivity of the test plot. She is hopeful that continuing to farm in this way and selling her produce through the program’s collective marketing initiative will soon allow her to invest in a sturdy, comfortable house for her family. She remarks with gratitude, “PWS&D and CARD are partners in times of need. All the efforts being done are much appreciated.”

More Than Just Food

PWS&D’s program in Malawi is dedicated to strengthening food production and marketing capacity for 750 farming households. From providing seeds, to training participants on how to store food properly, the project is increasing farmers’ capacity and helping them earn more at markets for their hard work.

For Enelesi Charles, who also participated in the PWS&D-supported food security program in Malawi, using conservation agriculture and selling her excess produce through the program’s marketing association meant that she could provide more than food for her family. “I used to harvest 100 kilograms of maize,” Enelesi shares, “but I am now able to harvest 300 kilograms of maize on that same plot.” Beyond having food for all of 2021, Enelesi was able to sell the surplus she harvested for enough money to purchase clothing for her children. “I am thankful for all the efforts PWS&D through CARD are doing in our community.”