The overall purpose of the project is to improve food and nutrition security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Malawi. The project will use AEI principles to generate options for resilient and sustainable farming systems and improve farmer capacity to enhance innovation. The team will investigate why some fields are not responsive to legume integration, and develop additional soil fertility management options. It will look at the impacts of farmers’ long-term legume technology trials on soil health. It will facilitate the establishment of FRNs beyond the pilot villages and investigate how they can be effectively scaled out and support innovation to sustainably improve soils and rural livelihoods in different maize-legume farming systems of Malawi. The specific objectives are to:
a) Identify context-specific soil health options for improving soil and crop productivity;
b) Evaluate impacts of maize-legume systems on soil organic matter pools and soil health;
c) Assess the economic and social benefits and costs of different legume options;
d) Identify factors facilitating and constraining farmer innovation and collaborative learning in FRN;
e) Identify how FRN can facilitate scaling up of soil health options to farmers in diverse contexts; and
f) Understand how FRN can facilitate farmer engagement with researchers and policy-makers on AEI.
The fourth phase of the project is built around two components that are central to CCRP – maize-legume integration and FRN. Building on findings from previous phases, it will significantly increase knowledge of how legumes plus additional Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) technologies can sustainably improve soils and livelihoods. It will also deepen understanding of how FRN can facilitate farmer-researcher co-creation of AEI technologies relevant to diverse farmer groups, and support scaling of these technologies across the wider famer community.