Youth test Farm – Malawi
In Malawi, there are high rates of youth (18-35 years) unemployment. The agricultural sector offers multiple livelihood and employment opportunities for the youth, and is the backbone of the economy. However, youth often have a negative perception of agricultural activities. To make farming attractive to youth and build capacity, we have introduced the Youth Test Farm concept in Malawi. On the farm youth can follow a yearly program where they experiment with farming themselves, follow trainings and visit other inspiring example farmers. The farm strives to be financially self sustainable on the long term.
The development of the farm started in October 2021. The first two cohorts of students have already graduated.
- Climate Smart Farming Practices
- SMART farming technologies/tools
- Small Business Development
This project facilitates trainings for the youth. The trainings focus on climate smart farming practices and farming technologies/tools that are SMART: Simple, Market based, Affordable and Repairable Technologies. Besides this, trainings on how to start a small farming business will be given as well as part of the project. These practices and technologies aim to create a farm that is resilient to climate change. Next to this, they aim to increase the water productivity from source to crop, using water and land efficiently and preventing land degradation while increasing profits. On the farm the students learn more about aspects like small dams, water harvesting and storage (both surface and subsurface), solar powered drip irrigation, agroforestry , horticulture, aqua-agriculture (fish farming), beekeeping, mulching, improved seed varieties, land preparation techniques, and organic fertilization.
On the farm the youth are also farming themselves. In groups of 4-5 youth they put their newly learned farming practices/technologies into practice by farming on 1 acre. They choose a crop they want to learn more about. During the rainy season they farm legumes and during the dry season they choose a horticulture crop that is irrigated. Before they start farming they do a simple market analysis and make a business plan. When the crop is harvested they will earn 80% of the sales. 20% goes back to the farm to use for reinvestments.
Experience has shown that many experienced farmers are willing to share experiences and teach others how to farm sustainably. Exchange visits to farmers that are using climate smart farming practices and SMART farming technologies have been organised for the youth. The first cohort of youth have visited 4 different farms: A fish farm, permaculture demonstration farm, and two horticultural farms. The example farmers will be part of the youth test farm network. This way, the youth will be able to contact example farmers to ask for information/knowledge about materials and resources.