Improving Maize Yield
Although Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world, it is also one of the most densely populated. This gives it some unique problems – not least when it comes to feeding a growing population.
One of the staple foods of Malawi is maize. It has been estimated using data from our center that a child requires 0.4 kg of maize per day (146 kg per year), while an adult requires 0.6 kg per day (210 kg per year).
Thus a small family of 2 adults and two children requires a harvest of at least 730 kg of maize (approximately 15 50 kg bags) to survive in relative comfort. The David James Foundation noticed that the techniques used by subsistence farmers in Malawi were producing pitifully small yields per acre.
HYBRID SEED AND ARTIFICIAL FERTILISERS
Commercial companies market hybrid maize seed which have been genetically developed to produce plants that are disease and drought resistant and can produce larger crops. Artificial fertilisers have a long, proven record of increasing the size and quality of the crop. If hybrid seed and artificial fertilisers were used in Malawi, yield would improve dramatically – but the costs are huge. Hybrid seed and artificial fertilisers would cost around £100 per acre; Malawian farmers simply cannot afford such sums.
The challenge for the David James Foundation was to come up with ideas as to how costs could be reduced - while still increasing yield.
FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW to read about how we met this challenge.