Tue 14 May 2019

Building resilience: Permaculture and sustainable development


“A good farm will be the supplier of the food for the community” – Victor, Naturally Africa Foundation


In May 2018, Impact Marathon Series held its inaugural Malawi Impact Week event in Nkope Mission – a small village on the shores of beautiful Lake Malawi. In partnership with the Naturally Africa Foundation, participants from around the globe joined together to with the community to drive a positive impact as we combine fundraising with our traditional Impact Week entertainment of hard labor and blisters.

In just one week, 40 new faces will arrive to continue what was kicked off a year ago.

A country of 18 million people, agriculture is an anchor for the Malawi people. 80% of Malawi’s food is produced by smallhold farmers, and agriculture is by far the country’s biggest source of income in foreign trade. People across the country rely on home or locally grown products such as maize to both feed their families and create income.

As a whole, agriculture makes up 30% of Malawi’s GDP and is its best bet for delivering positive and lasting change for its people.

However, many factors create instability for Malawi’s agricultural yields.

A practice passed down from generations, “old-school” farming techniques such as mono-cropping and land burning have led to a decline in the quality of farming soil and rendered much of Malawi’s open farmland either malnourished or infertile.

The fields in 2018 as we launched the Agricultural project at Malawi Impact

Larger farming institutions promised a miracle fix for barren land in the form of expensive fertilisers, thus creating a cycle of reliance rather than fixing the problem at its source. And as a pricey investment, most smallhold farmers cannot afford the fertilisers in the first place.

Without a sustainable and natural solution to this problem Malawi’s land will continue to yield fewer crops over time, and the poorest are hit the hardest.

Victor teaches the Impact Runners about his work

The fields in 2018 as we launched the Agricultural project at Malawi Impact

Organisations such as Naturally Africa have long seen a huge potential to drive positive change for  Malawi’s people through improving agriculture techniques.

Permaculture, a concept which originated in Australia in the 1970s, is the foundation from which the Naturally Africa agriculture project has grown, with the vision to support individuals in the sustainable development of their own farms to both feed their families and generate income through the selling of excess supply.

Created in 2017 and officially launched in 2018, the project combines education, demonstration and training to empower Malawians to be more independent and self-sustaining through agriculture.

Together with the Impact participants in 2018, the Naturally Africa agriculture project officially launched, breaking ground and planting trees on the first two hectares of land. With a total of twenty hectares to work with, Naturally Africa is working to cultivate the once barren land into fertile ground in which they will demonstrate permaculture techniques for education and training to the local community. Over time, the crops grown in this space will generate enough revenue to expand the project to neighbouring villages.

The fields in 2018 as we launched the Agricultural project at Malawi Impact

This work puts us at the forefront of three major Sustainable Development Goals: 

#1 No Poverty

#2 Zero Hunger

#3 Good health and well-being

Check back later in the week to see exactly how this work contributes to these goals, and how by bringing the abstract alive on a grassroots level we can truly see our power to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The fields in 2018 as we launched the Agricultural project at Malawi Impact

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