Today marks World Soil Day, 5th December 2017, celebrating one of the earth’s most precious resources – earth!
Soil keeps nature’s rhythms balanced, storing harmful CO2, providing good nutrients and soaking up water. For those living in northern Malawi, soil is particularly important. 90% of the population here are farmers, so the livelihoods of entire communities depend on good-quality earth. When the soil is damaged, crops can’t grow, farmers can’t sell, and families can’t eat.
Unfortunately, the soil in this part of Malawi is under immense stress from deforestation. Cutting down trees has dramatically reduced the quality of the soil, losing important nutrients and oxygen. Damaged soil can lead to disasters of drought and flooding, whereas fully-functioning soil acts as a sponge, holding a staggering 3,750 tons of water per hectare!
“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil … There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” – Charles E. Kellogg
In partnership with Temwa, communities in the Nkhata Bay North region of Malawi are working hard to tackle this problem, restore their soil and ensure food security. Our Agriculture and Forestry programme equips communities with skills to become stewards of their natural resources; planting tree nurseries and training farmers in sustainable growing and alternative livelihoods.
Godwin is a farmer who has been involved in the sustainable agriculture programme for six years now. Before he joined, his degraded soil and poor crops had not produced enough income to take care of his family. For Godwin, joining the programme has had an amazing impact. Over a short time, he has learnt to plant home woodlots, and cultivate quality crops like maize, Irish potatoes, vegetables and soya beans in a way that sustains his land. As a Lead Farmer, Godwin happily teaches other farmers about sustainable agriculture and forestry, passing on his skills. Temwa’s programme aims for 60% women, and Godwin has been excited to see sustainable agriculture affecting gender equality, with female farmers in the community empowered through strong, eco-friendly livelihoods.
We are so grateful for those in both the UK and Malawi who support our Agriculture and Forestry work, including wonderful local businesses like Souk Kitchen. This December, their Southville restaurant are donating £1 to Temwa for every bill over £20.
We also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s ‘Big Give’ Christmas Challenge, where donations from our supporters are match-funded. Thanks to your amazing generosity last year, over 300 people in northern Malawi were trained in sustainable agriculture! We are anticipating the same in 2018.
If you’ve been inspired to support our life-changing Agriculture and Forestry work in Malawi, why not offset your paper usage and plant trees in Malawi with a Degree Tree? Or, become a regular giver through our online donation page.