Intensification / MAIZECRP / Malawi / poster / Scaling / Southern Africa / Tanzania / WUR

Sustainably intensified futures for diverse smallholder farm and household types using FarmDESIGN, Q Methodology and FarmMATCH

Farms are very diverse in their size, structure and production orientation. Farmers too, differ in their strategies towards sustainable intensification (SI). Moreover, the roles of the farm enterprise in relation to their off-farm activities and their off-farm income generation differs. These differences have implications for:

  • the window of opportunities for farm households to adjust their farm configuration and management, and the trade-offs that they face.
  • the most appropriate sequence of steps to implement new practices and technologies to build up human, economic and natural capital.
  • the Africa RISING project, the farm households that need to be targeted to be efficient and effective in obtaining the desired project outcomes and to reach adoption and systems improvement at scale.

This poster highlights results from a study conducted among Africa RISING smallholder farmers Malawi and Tanzania in two phases:

  • Phase 1: The diversity of smallholder farmers was analysed using typologies and analysis of trade-offs and synergies, using the multi-objective optimization model FarmDESIGN.
  • Phase 2: Through focus group discussions (FGDs), participatory work was done with farmers in Babati and Dodoma in Tanzania using scenario-studies in FarmDESIGN. An analysis of farmers’ strategic notions towards SI trajectories of change through Q Methodology in Dedza and Ntcheu districts in Central Malawi.

The aim of the study was to characterize the existing smallholder diversity and identify innovation pathways for different farm(er) types.

In the FGDs, Tanzanian farmers understood the model output and responded enthusiastically towards the results from FarmDESIGN indicating that the model is a useful discussion generating tool for cycles of participatory extension. Three distinct strategic notions towards SI were found among smallholder farmers in Malawi indicating three different strategies that different farmers there might use when sustainably intensifying their farming systems.

The classifications that have been developed and the analyses that are performed allow targeted innovation in smallholder farms, based on an understanding of requirements, possibilities and potentials. The FarmMATCH approach will inform project members, extension workers, researchers and policymakers about scaling and supports large-scale data collection.

This poster was presented at the Africa RISING ESA project review and planning meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi on 3–5 October 2018.

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