Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (SUGAM) has partnered with Feed the Future Strengthening Agriculture and Nutrition Extension (SANE) to implement a study project called Integrated Household Farming – Household Approach (IHF-HHA). The partnership will run from May 2019 to September 2020.
Feed the Future Strengthening Agricultural and Nutrition Extension (SANE) is a five-year Activity (2015-2020 November) operating in Malawi and administered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) with Catholic Relief Services Malawi. One of the key components of the project is to improve farmer households’ food security, nutrition status, income generation, and agricultural practice and technology while empowering vulnerable populations such as youth and women. For this sake, SANE developed an innovative training program, Integrated Household Farming (IHF) – Household Approach (HHA). IHF is the combined diversified production of plants and trees (vegetables, fruits and legumes) and rearing of small stock (poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, etc.) around the home for improved access to the food groups to enhance food security and nutrition status, generate income, and improve agricultural practice and technology. HHA empowers all household members (women, girls, men and boys) in planning, implementation of, and benefiting from household agriculture activities through knowledge and skills building in decision making, and resource mobilization and utilization.
SANE proposed the study to assess how training on IHF and HHA by private sector extension workers can better promote nutritional, gender, agricultural, and welfare status of farmers, especially for farmers engaged heavily in cash crops. The study targets the farmers of Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (SUGAM). SUGAM is an umbrella body for smallholder sugarcane growers that grow sugarcane for industrial purposes. In the study, SUGAM extension staff will participate in the training by SANE on IHF-HHA, and will provide training and support for the participating outgrower households, with backstopping for SUGAM staff over the months of the study. SANE staff will conduct a baseline and an endline survey that will capture key household gender and nutrition status, and behaviours – decision-making, budget allocation, time allocation, and related behaviours. Changes and gains in knowledge, attitudes and practices will also be measured for both those in the program and those in the control group. In order to collaborate in implementing the training and the study, the SANE project is facilitating a service agreement with SUGAM. IHF-HHA will complement the Practice for Change project which SUGAM is implementing in Chikwawa district to support sugarcane growers under Kasinthula, KAMA and Phata grower organizations with funding from Solidaridad Network Southern Africa Trust.
To roll out the project SUGAM and SANE conducted a briefing meeting at Hope Lodge in Chikwawa on 15th July 2019. Speaking during the briefing meeting, SANE Officer pointed out by quoting one research who said “Outgrower schemes improve farmers’ income, but its effect on farmer household’s nutrition has been marginal / not been observed” (Kennedy 1989, Braun 1995). It is against this background that SANE proposed to work with SUGAM whose farmers are involved in production sugarcane as a cash crop.