Title: Reports from Art Hansen, at the Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe, Malawi
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00087426/00008
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Title: Reports from Art Hansen, at the Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe, Malawi
Physical Description: Serial
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Bibliographic ID: UF00087426
Volume ID: VID00008
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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- ^ "%


1. Stages:


Zoning, background, exploratory verification planning

2. Discussions with DAO Mr Klepper to. assess whether EPA's 2,4,7,8 could be
treated as one type of farming area.


1. Framework farmer/rer-arch/extension, ]1ik a, with approach

focused on the farm;er/researc2,h link.
Specily objectives; to identify farmers problems

and their capacity to change!

a> to focus research effortson relevant issues.
b) to screen existing stock of tdchnolo3gyto allow
relevant combinations of components
2. f. ethod We spent 4 days in4 Jche.u EPA's a, 4. 7. 8 on an
\ .ploratory -urva;v informal guided discussions with
farmers, the approach would normally now follow this with
a verification survOj to: .
a) Confirm descript.l.on of farmers circumstances system
priorities and management tactics are in fact true for the
population as a whole.
b) Test hypothesis about priorities and management tactics.
c) Presureen some technological possibilities
The results I set out here must be read in the light of a need for
verification by a formal survey about one months work.
3. Presentation I will first outline what was found in.Ntcheu from the
4 day exploratory survey
Those who are faminijar with Malawi small farmers will find
little new in th description but I would emphasize or
concern 'o establish procedures whereby those with little
or nO experience opitIgain insights. Those with a lot of
experience may find the system, pe4pR.c.tvtC used to interpret

Sthe description the 4i0ost useful.

After discussion and (questions I should like only as a
supplement to raisq one or two general points.

'1 J I

- 2

Notes. belowv fclol1'w tho DotAi Ced Guloidu i~nor bmu( ~ .t ore ,.

1. ccrit ici~..Uthe Iacri fa~rmiaig .s o

(1) A wide range of crops were listed ind obsorvcd. Th, major r crop;. are:
raize, groundnuts, beans (major in "the sene- of resource. absorpt ion)
cotton could be added in the South, although only for some 25% o. farmers;

and Dark fined cured tobacco amongst a low proportion of farmers in tPA,8.

Minor crops, though with a critical role in the system, are Cassa.'a, Sweet

Potato, Pumpkins and Finger Millot, other crops observed, some suhb:tituting

in the roles of major crops were: Bambara. nuto,Cowpeas, Pigeon pi's and
Sorghum. Sunflower, Chillies Citrus and tiangoes. Apart from maizc' and
beans, Tomatoes and cabbage and to a lesser extent Ovion and sugar cane wero
crops in the Dimba.

Farmers kept cattle, goats, pigs and poultry, the proportion with cattle

and pigs varied, poultry and goats were more general.

(b+c) Product




Finger millet

Sweet potato
Pigeon Pea


Cabbage -

SR52 -

local T-
Chalimbana -

local various






End uses

food and s.,le


- f ood

- boor

rious food
f- ood
S food

-. food


s~urpueseold 'if gu,

-surplutses sold1 in goocJ
-some used fov ~relish

yX :

surpluses sold in. good ;
fresh or as nslna surpluses sold local: ,

(-sold for beer
(-nsima in a poor maize year
surpluses sold locally

relish )
relish ) minor local sal4s

relish )

and sonic eaten
and some sales locally

relish 'J

d~ ,~.
~ '0.

* *

3 -

Sunflower ? salu
Citrus ? food and sales
Onions ? food and sales
Sugar cane local food and some local sales
Cattle local insurance; sold in poor year,.some draught
Pigs ? food and some local sales
Poultry local food and some local sales
Goats local food, insurance when cash is short.

Some notes need to be added on the major crops ,only,

(1) Maize The local varieties are much the most widely grown and are easy
to pound and store well, the major complaint about the hybrids is difficult
pounding and heavy weevilling. UCA was felt to give some pounding and
storage problems. SR52 and MH12, where grown,,.are seen as purely cash
crops and are unacceptable as a subsistence-maize.
Local maize also has planting ..advantages; it *s felt to be
relatively immune to cob rots, seen as a further major problem with the

hybrids in years when rains run on into April.
There was little difference in maturity lengths for the varieties,
all seemedto be around 140 days.

(ii.) Bean Both climbing and bush varieties were tried, the preferred
colours were red, brown and stripod for their flavour rather than any other
reason. Boans were first proferenco for Naima relish throughout the area,
with pumpkin leaves following closely behind. All communities used bean
leaves as well as pods and climbiu'g varieties were slightly favoured (and
much more widely -Oseorved) for the spread of the leaf supply offered. Bean
pods are also eaten fresh and climbers supply these over -a longer period
as well as leaves. Bush habit varieties were preferred for dimba
plantings and ease of harvesting with single maturing appreciated.

(iii) Groundnuts,- Chalimbana varieties were dominant and all types were grown
mainly for sale.

(d) (i) Maize Maizse is pounded to remove the outer coat
(e) and then normally taken to the hammer mill for grinding. Hybrid shatter
badly in pounding. UCA tends to give a high proportion of waste during

(ii) 'Beans. Leaves give a source of relish at a time when stores are empty
i.e. fairly soon after planting. The top leaves are picked to make the
bean branch, 2 leaves are taken p.r picking and a plant may :be picked over

I .: .'"? ,


4 times. As with pumpkin the leaves may be cooked, dried.and stored for
use in October, November, before the iresh leaves of the new crop
become available. (? length of storage of dried leaves),

(iii) Cassava Lad Sweet Potatoes are both seen as a back up starch staple, Though
cassava,'through its ability to store in the ground offers much 'more
flexibility. Varieties seen include one ready to use after.:ne year which
can be stored in the ground for a further year, and one whieh takes 2 years
to be ready but can store for a further 2 3 year. However prolonged
storing in ground gradually diminishes palatability. Both crops are planted
'off peak', often in February or March. A strong point made in areas where.
pigs have caught on was that the pigs were very damaging to both crops.
It is possible that this is made worse if SP and cassava being 'used -,
from the ground, are grown close to the homestead for convenience ,in
digging as required.

(iv) Millet d4- Sorghu Millet. and Sorghum both appear to be disappearing
from the system. ,put millet in particular is highly valued for brewing,
and, because of its long storage life, forms a good source of ,ash when
household needs should buicoinu overwhelming. A few older farmers expressed
a preference for nsima front millet .lparticulary as a change from maize.
(2) Food supply and .references .

(a)i) .aie flour made into nsira and oatpn with beai.a, pumpkin leaves and
to a limited extent meat, cowpeafa, groundbeans,' nd, in some areas
fish, is the basic dish, Groundnuts are often crushed into this.
relish base in small quantities and tomato, onion dnd cabbage are
pa4d from Ndumba gardens.',

ii) Sweet Potatoes tojeL!her with green maize make up supplementary foods
but are probably not cqnsaderod as a 'full meal'. .

(b)i) Preferred Maize -beans pumpkin loaves Sweet Potato "'
Substitute Spot Puwpliu leaves bean leaves cassava
Cassava Groundnut :' cassava leaves
Millet Cowpea
Pigeoon P.

.. ....' ' ' ... ..-. ..-.. .... .. ""."

5 -

(ii)l: Maize `::. In a bad year may become difficult as early as September
and the shortage last through until March. Often .for many families
December-February is difficult.
Beans It is problematic production particularly in the South.
Storage is also difficult. November, February and August may find
plantings, February and August in the dimba.
Vegetables Dimba's is valuable for tomato, cabbage and onion,
planted in February-March and providing relish through the dry season
say June to September.

(c) Finger Millet has been replaced by maize.,, It is notclear whether
beans will fade, groundnuts has clearly not. easily replaced them.

(d)i) Maize is often purchased by a 'significant proportion' of families in
January and February.
ii) Beans are often purchased sometimes all the year round especially
from the Kirk range, but often by non Dimba owners from May and from
Dimba owners during October, November, December.
iii) Fresh cassava may be bought as an alternative or supplement to bought
maize December, January and February.
iv) Much of the food purchases over this period are financed by farmers
and families working for cash on other farms.


( f ) -. .. .

(g) ij Bean prices were said to increase from 1 to 3 from the period of
plenty post harvest January, March, tothe period of heavy scarcity.
ii) Some indications of a doubling of the price of local maize in the
markets from post harvest to periods of scarcity. (Admarc selling
K4.50, buying K 6.50) ,

(h) Qattle feeding: stories:- one: feeding, is difficult. When both up-
land and dimba crops are in the ground because of accessato grazing
from homesteads in the village through the fields and,to,the water in
streams through the- dimba gardens or/at least streams ide gardens.

S,'o@ne: feeding 'is a, problem in the' dry season especially in the
North, due to lack of grazing by August, September.i Maize residues
and pounding may be fed, there may be some transactions for access
to maize stores, sometimes on the basis of manure. Exceptions rather
than rule.

p -

3) Cropping catlehdar. (3a-d)
Land can be divided into uplnd nd and timbi LVI.la.d so-ile ;re lighter :and
relatively frer draining Diba lannd Is heavier and subj act to Ivateilogging
in heavy rain, it is limited and the preparation of farmers having access
is unknown.


Aue Set

Oct fNov Dec Jan' Feb Mar Apr May Jun

Maize local/UCA land prep plan
hybrid land prep plan
Groundnuts land prep plan
Beans( local maize) and prep- plan
Sweet potato

t green harvest
d gree
t harvest _'_ ... .

t harvesting '
Island prep-pl ant- ____ harv.
land prep-plant ..
Plant ___ __ pick
plant ___ _ pick

Dimba A S 0 N D J F M A M J
perihap~ only in cricks i
Maize (some) ____ _-.plant plant

Beans (some) __pland plant
Vegetables (many)
Vegetables (some) harvest

plant harvest

P p~ ant

There is a strong emphasis on the importance of establishing local maze or UCA.. This
may be due to both: to food security priorities, but also to the fact that hybrid
maize seed, being expensive, cannot be put at risk if early rains are not
sustained. Also perhaps that if hybrid is put in early,, and rains arc prolonged,
there is a heavy pob rot problem.'**.Farmers'repOatedly emphkasised that maize must
be established by the middlL:of December and were reluctant to be pressed' any
later. This was despite the fact that a number of plantings done in January
were deserved in all areas. Two farmers indicated that January planting had
a better chance of coming through the 4drught, and might be purposive,. insurance
against a dry spell ift rains continued past tho end of March. Some.visual evidence
supported this .

f -

4) Cash sources and uses ,
a) While information on cash sources was clear, littJe, information on
levels was forthcoming. QGven'the acreages cropped and the dominance of
subsistence priorities, as well as the low price for produce it is
speculated that typical cash income of the majority will be of the order
of Kw 50-75. Cash sources are a@t out in.item 1, b+c, above. The major
ones are: Hybrid maize sales, cotton sales, groundnut sales, livestock
sales and off farm employment. Ther'Baet in the AES survey report for
1977/78 to show the relative importance in the Southern end of the area.
Cotton has probably increased since then, Hybrid maize sales are the more
important in the North, and cattle or livestock income, may be somewhat
artificial, bei't a few sales and large comes as a. consequence. Sales
were reported as one every two or three years. Millet sales for local
beer making may }e a significant (in term of overall levels) supplement-
ary source.

b) Price variation is clearly related to both supply and demand instances
of harvest, .Maize and 'bean' single example s have been noted under 2g above.

d) Decision to sell food supplies are probably rare unless foods are in
surplus. Exigencies requiring cash may precipitate sales ,of all food crops.

e) Off farm employment is thought to be relatively infrequent and most
usually seasonal or temporary. This would be an important aspect to
verify in the' formal survey. Major types of work nojed were;'

i) farmer absent for 6 months in 1979 March-October tea.picking in
ii) farmers working for others and havingothers work for them locally.
Due to a seasonal (Nov-Feb) need for cash to bring food.' Payment
would ofted be made in maize.
iii) Estate work in 1the lower part of 'the area. But .t was reported as
unreliable .wh en most farmers needed cash the estates were also
having a bad season and did, not need the tempgrar~ labour.'

f) School fees/re-orted variously as June and September, -.
Input costs, October/November
Hired labour for weeding, December/January. ': ,'.

g) Maize: iiaproved seeds and fertiliser and Actellic for store e.
Groundnuts:. improved.seeds end fortilinr .
Cotton; sprayer and insecticidopp nd some hire of s!eayers
Cash for inputs was:.aid tolb a ppobl m. Mont of those using theia'were .
probably using credit cillities. :
h) .

5) Husbandry th .main crop followed through was maize, accounting for some
90% (AES) of thv,. cropped. aroa if mixtures are included.'

a) Maize
i) Witchweed& may encourage rotation but area is so large a proportion
that effectively rotation is not possible. Farmers do mowe proqdnut.
(and cotton) around the maize area. It was' reported that maizifmay not.
always be th'. crop on newly cleared land. ,.
ii) Hoes are used for preparation (? 1% of farmers with oxploughs> which
begins as soon as harvest of the last years'maize is completeoftih in'
August. All laud is prepared before the onset of,the'raids in October/
November. The seedbeds are all put up into ridges. Preparation: means
clearing trash into furrows, then ridging, ridging will be done during
rains sometinr-but normally before.
iii) Local 'mami is often mixed with beans and/or groundnuts, less often
w.th cassava,..,umpkti.na are often interplasted at 1jw density. Some
farmers ,also iptprplant finger millet. 4 :
Two methods of ..intu-rplanting:seed iR mixed before planting 7 or 8 soeds
are put in.eoah hole(of which 5 probably maize). .
SoTndtimes-maize is established'at about 3i-4 Tect apart. When it i,.
germinated other crops are placed between the maize stations. Climlang
beans the usual type used, are put within 3" of Vhe maize plants...,,,
Some local and"tACA may,bo dry planted but most planting. don. whe
farmers feel the soil to be wet onough.:.- usually with.',2 gays of ,gooSp jan.
UCA and the hybrids are not intercropped but are planted, pur.e. ,:

Local mai.e and/or UCA orcplanted with .the first rains hybrid ma.iz114 ,I
follows after groundnuts. Farmers may supply gaps often by transplanting
seedlings from adjacent stations. :, .
Planting holes are made with hoes, sticks and,, perhaps mostr.p'oumoklV wth
.the heel. Often one pace is made between planting stations.

- 9

iv) Two weedings, or a light weeding at 2 weeks (5 leaf) stage, followed
,by a banking at 5-6 weeks (8-9 leaf stage), are commonly made.
Stations may be thinned back to 3, or more commonly 4, plants per
hole. Thinnings may be given to cattle.

v) Farmers recognized stalk borer as occurring in some seasons there
was no indication of control. Its importance was very subordinate to
store damage by weevils and stock damage by termites and rats.

vi) Varying proportions of farmers used maize fertilizer in different
parts of the area. The basal, dressing was made sonn after germination
and the top dressing just before tasselling. No idea of average
rates was obtained. It would be an important aspect of verification.
Not applied if crop seen to be poor.

vii) There was some evidence of the use of thinings and. residues by a minor
proportion of livestock owners.

viii) Maize is almost always harvested and'used green both from the local
hybrid crops (staggered planting date will prolong the green-cob
supply). Cobs are taken from Dimba maize as early as Februaryj and
from the Upland crop in February/March.' -

Harvesting proper may begin in April/May and will continue through to
August for late planted gardens. The hybrid crop is commonly stocked
for' drying, particularly if harvest is late, to allow cultivating of
the fields to begin. Cobs are taken off the stocked maize and are
stored in the husk.

Ash and dust are sometimes applied, as well as Acteric in some cases,
in the stored crops. Hybrid shelled for immediate sale.

ix) Farmers select seed either in the field (few) or from the harvested
crop some when putting it in the sbore, holding large firm cobs with
a well protected end, and storing separately, sometimes is sacks or in
kitchen smoke. 4 some wait until-closer to planting and pick out non-
weevilled cobs. Many farmers, break the top and bottom pips off the
cobs using only the large middle grains.

x) Dimba 'maize will normally be planted before upland, and a crop may be
planted in the Dimba in February. Farmers mentioned this as a possible
response to poor maize crops due tb rainfall failure in January.
: .' ., ' "1-;' i '- ."-

-0 -

b. Groundnuts

i) l'ould-alwaysbe. plant in a different patch acknowledged problems
of continual plant4ig.

ii) May be in single row pure, stand, staggered rows pure. stand, or
interplanted with maize. ..The need is to establish them early before
the 'risky' Jan/Feb months otherwise poor pod formation, and small
nuts',- Gr'oundnuts. take priority, after local food maize.

iii) Weeding should be 'finished before podding to avoid damage to' fruit.

iv) Harvests groundnuts March/April. Keeping some in shelLs for con-

v) Seed is bought from Admarc if supply is short. 'If available large
unshrivelled nuts will be chosen after shelling.


1) Land
a) The tenure system is usufruct, but an inflexibility.is. apparent in
re-allocation according to needs. Partly explained by the matri-
lineal system, partly by headmen awgre of the growing population
and future allocation problems. Apparently no requests for more
land were being .entertained, yet, itAwas visibly evident that there
was a signifipant'proportion of fallow. Note that reduction in
fallow could 4 so heighten the grazing problems particularly if
it were a reduction in Dimba. Apparently the headman does not
have powers of re-allocation or doe4 not seem willing to exercise
them so the family cycle may mean.that idle land increases as the
village co,,ii.munity ages could be a reluctance due to heavy in-migra-
tion .in South. But situation not clear could there be policy
against increasing family allocation? Soil closest to the
villages is more exhausted than further away,.

Many men .-probably have their ;eyee on their.,mother' s land (or--;
father's?) in their home villages,:' Several cultivated in their
wife's village and their ;own. .Dimba land is particularly scarce
in the South with a low proportion of farmerss working it.

b) Many farmers are cultivating all they have, though a higher pro-
portion leave fallow parts in the South.

c+d) Groundnuts and cotton are, largely .peaking, rotated around the

- 11

maize area apart from this maize cultivation tends to be continuous.

e) As explained above new land seems to be a problem. There is no
formal renting but clearly, within family,temporary transfers occur.

f) The obvious divisions are Dimba and Munda (upland) gardens. Claims
were made that maize is put into the better soils.

2) Labour
a) The busiest period was consistently given as late December and
January. Coincident with final plantings and a heavy weeding burden
on maize, groundnut and cotton plantings.

b) This period did not change with the season, it was consistent from
year to year.

c) Some farmers reported a secondary peak in June and July in which
maize carrying and t u. shelling featured, also cotton picking
in the South. (n.b. the feasibility of spreading cultivation area
the August-November period and having land prepared for the rains
is unusual. Rain will unleash a crisis of activity to get land
planted up before weeds overtake the good work).

d) The proportion hiring labou:- would be an important facet for veri-
fication it is a significant portion, especially in the north
and centre. It is often a case of a demand by farmers needing
food or c.sh for food for temporary labour. 'Labour is mainly
hired for weeding, banking and planting. (Rates are 8 pac&s for
1 tambala) with some labour for groundnut shelling and cotton

e) There is little available machinery. Ox-carts are sometimes
hired for carrying maize to Admarc.

f) -

Additional notes:

some hire of labour on a reciprocal basis or for beer during
the marvest time.

Similarly advances of salt are made in some cases to reserve
labour for carrying maize to market.

Water for cotton spraying (1i:Lr of spr.~yr KNv3 p r acre per pT,)
sometimes carri'id by gang labo'Or, also cotton pickin;; basico31y
Such gangs are reciprocal.

3. Yield variabii:Ltt

1922, 1949, 1980, seen as very bad years by farmers can be traced in
rainfall statistics, particularly recil c;tcd by January lows.
Statistics indicate: (Balaka (SE) Ntcheu Boma (NV')
a) For planting months assume. S2-3" rainfall needed.

October gives this about 1 in 10 years
November gives this about 5 in 10
December gives this about 9 in 10

b) For grain filling assume 5" rainfall needed.'

December gives this about 6 in 10 ( 50% -1 in 10
January 9 in 10 50%, 1 in 10
February i7 in 10 ( 50% 2 in 10
March O6 in 10 50% 3 in 10

<) Farmers indicated that low mnaizo yields and poor bean production were
major concerns in variaib)1.ity of expectations.
An unknown factor caused poor been results -
frequcitly described as pods J'ul)ing from the plant at lowering.
? disease, deficicnry, poorly adapted variety?
2 a) Maize was affected most severely by rainfall
uncertainties but particularly by low levels of rain .i, January
and/or February at tasselling time. It was also affected by de ayod
start to the rains; and by prolonged rains into April which caused
serious cob rots among the improved varieties,
b) measures to combat the effects of uncertain rainfall on maize incl3.ud:;
(i) Continuation of local maize production
(il) Growing of in.suranco crops, notably sweet potato and cassava
(iii) Banks of millet, otherwise used for sale for beer
(iv ) Banks of cattle
( v ) Purchase of maize and/or e.iasava
temporary l bour to get cash or food,

(vi) Early land preparation .to iiiinimise risk of being caught by
early finish to rains.


Bean short f 71 !s are cu Ld- b

i) GrowinL^ subst.lutei; pigeon pera, vcowpcal;
ii) Growinfg ltorn'tj ,,; pumpkin l.avas
iii) Buyinl!', ears.

3. *Pests and D'i.reases
a) Not clear which rauiku.d most important, subordinated to rainfall
problems with maize. But termites and rats in stocked maize, stalk
borer jn field vaize, and weevils in stored maize and beans all
featured, No :indications of frequencies.

b) No means for prevention except for. some knowledge of rotation for
groundout diseases, Ash/or DDT for weevils in storage, DDT/or equivalent
for stalk borer in field for maize.

c) Uprooting termite nests in fields.

Additional notes on hazards

1) Late planting of maize -- in Januiary was in evidence and was twice
presented as a stratiev for cutting losses in the event of a Jan/Feb low
in rainfall --(earl i.er growth st ge :less water use).

2) Cutting back in so..:' areas of -,assava and sweet potato due to pig
depredations, was acknowledged to Pave increased ~usceptibilit-y to
poor maize ,'ear.

3) Early plnuiting (Feb/!'ar) of Dimba with maize was offered as a reaction to
poor stands, of upland maize, and was hold nut as likely this year.

4) witch weed, reported as a problem in ptaize, one farmer claimed that
a break with grouqdnuts freed the garden of witchweed for two years.

5) Reported a groundnut failing, seemed to associate it with certain, but
non-specified, soils. It varies from year to year but patches of soil
seem to dry out and plants die off.

6) Estate employment often not available in a poor year as it is poor for
them as well.

- .1

7) Monkeys were re.porled eating. maize.

Final note on local market orico .. (AES)

Prices for local markets for the 1977/78 season were supplied by AES.. They
reflect both seasonal variations and the availatilityof locally produced
food produce -- Unfortunately August.- Dec; thl start of the difficult
time for food, is not included.

3 months in Ncheu Jan July 1978

Kwacha/ Kg
Market Product Jan Feb March April May June July

SYMON DRY MAIZE (SHi) .063. .055 .067 .062 .054 .044' '.047
G/NUT US .560 .192 .135 .120
CASSAVA BOOT .073 .072 ..063 .077 .068 .085
F. MILLET .126 .098 .091 .069 .081 .094
DRY BEANS 0.85 .152 .110 .132 .139
SW.POT .020 -
CABBAGE .071 -
MPIIATE D.MAIZE SHELLED .068 .071 .067 .050 .04{ .042 .045
G/NUT U/SH .141 .161 .096 .115 .133 .147
CASSAVA ROOT .052 .046 .050 .050 .050 .045 .060
F, MILLET .090 .111 .130 ,107 .307 .000 .088
DRY BEANS .182 .174 .172 .139 .111 .135
8. POT -
CABBAGE .090 -
MLANGENI DRY MAIZE (SH) .045 .069 .050 .04-3 .039 .039
G/NUT US .106 .077 .132 .096
CASSAVA ROOT .058 .064 .057 .040 .049 .056 .051
F.MILLET .079 .148 .100 .088 .105 .071
DRY BEAN .227 .154 .125 .090 .136 .140
.SW-POT -" -
CABBAGE .092 .046 -


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