Heifer's Work in Malawi
State of the African FarmerThe State of the African Farmer report has been produced as a contribution to the great debate on agriculture and food security in Africa. It is a compilation of views and voices of farmers, practitioners, policymakers and academics across Africa and beyond, each speaking from the heart and sharing their experience.
Malawi is one of 10 poorest countries in the world ranking 167 of 177 countries according to the human development report (2007/08) and has a population estimated to be at 13.1 million people. The Northern region has the lowest population at 13 percent and the Southern region has the largest population at 45 percent. The Central region is home to 42 percent of the population. Poverty is wide spread in Malawi with almost 45 percent of the population living below the poverty line of US $1 a day. The rural population which constitutes over 80 percent of the population are the most hit with poverty.
In Malawi, the over reliance on agriculture has brought negative effects on the environment as the natural resources are being depleted for cultivation land.
More than 80 percent of the population in Malawi, especially in rural area, rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. The over reliance on agriculture has brought negative effects on the environment, as the natural resources are being depleted for cultivation land. Poor farming practices characterize the agricultural production in Malawi which has led to environment degradation. These issues have contributed in one way or the other to the changes in rainfall patterns and the accumulation of silt in the rivers, affecting power generation in Malawi.
In addition to crops, livestock plays an important role in improving household food security. Apart from providing food and income, livestock also provides manure, hides, social security, etc. In Malawi, livestock contributes to about 8 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and above 36 percent the value of total agricultural products.
In 2008, Heifer International made a decision to open a country office in Malawi. Heifer International would normally open a new office with both administrative and project funds supported directly from the headquarters. However, due to the world economic situation that also affected Heifer International, the country office had to begin with minimal project support from headquarters, focusing on sourcing for additional funding outside Heifer.
Heifer Malawi is currently implementing a Small Scale Dairy Development Project in the central regions with a co-funding arrangement between Heifer International and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This project is expected to assist 180 smallholder farmers.