Bringing research to farmers' fields in Malawi: Lizzie Shumba (Malawi)
Bigger crops lead to better health with Canadian collaboration
Malawian and Canadian researchers — agricultural, nutritional, and social scientists — worked with hospital staff and farmers to find the“best legume options.” Supported by IDRC since 2001, the project has improved nutrition, particularly of women and children. After eight years, the children of families involved show significant weight increases. This makes a good case that soil health and community health are connected. Legumes are now part of the diet in the area. The research has also helped strengthen the communities and build trust among their members.
We started with 30 farmers in seven pilot villages. These farmers were trained in research techniques. Now, more than 7000 farmers are involved, and so many more are interested in learning the technologies. Farmers see that using legumes to improve their soil fertility is sustainable and it reduces the need to buy fertilizers.
The families are also seeing that by eating legumes, children have better nutrition. We go out, especially after the harvest, and show communities how to process and use the legumes to improve children’s diets. These “recipe days” are becoming very popular. I’m really happy because the rural people are saying that they are happy.