Sustainable food production and accessible water are critical for life. Our sustainable Deep Bed Farming method transforms farmer livelihoods and health, whilst harvesting water, improving soils and habitats, and making land more resilient to climate change.
Tiyeni means "Let's Go!" in Chichewa, Malawi's most widely spoken language.
Tiyeni trains farmers in a climate smart agriculture technology called Deep Bed Farming. Our method more than doubles crop yields in the first season, lifting whole communities out of food insecurity. As word of this spreads, thousands of farmers are clamouring for the knowledge and skills that Tiyeni’s all Malawian team can give. Widespread adoption will end food poverty and our catchment management approach conserves water, stops soil erosion and improves biodiversity.
Tiyeni is a Malawian NGO and UK registered charity that trains communities in Deep Bed Farming (DBF): a low tech, low cost innovative method. Tiyeni delivers rapid, demonstrable and continuing results - with minimal inputs.
Farmers switching to DBF have seen crop yields rise by 145 percent on average in the first year of adoption – nearly two and a half times what they were. Water percolates underground, topping up aquifers, where it stays far into the dry season, helping communities cope with the effects of climate change. When roots penetrate more deeply into the soil, they carry carbon down with them which also directly mitigates climate change. Farmer inputs are also lower. Tried and tested, DBF cuts hunger quickly and dramatically. Imagine what it must be like to only have enough food for 1 meal per day…DBF farmers can typically consume an extra daily meal.
Training. We only respond to requests for training. They come from communities that have seen successes from neighbours. Training follows a seasonal calendar and done in rotation with all the farms in a community. They then vote for who should be “Lead Farmers”. Who each go on to teach 5 - 15 farmers each per year – with advice and monitoring from Tiyeni staff. Supported by Tiyeni's gender mainstreaming approach, we see a gender balance of lead farmers and empowered women farmers. Communities then showcase the Deep Beds to surrounding villages – leading to a clamour for more training.
Growth. Farmer requests have grown exponentially, from 38 farmers in 4 trial communities in 2012, to over 30,000 farmers by the end of 2022, in all three regions of Malawi. Demand for training is huge: farmers can see it works, and in their words “is common sense”. We are a small, dynamic, effective NGO with an experienced and motivated all-Malawi staff supported by a UK funding arm. We do not intend to grow staff to train all 1.5 million farmers in Malawi: we aim instead to train other organisations. In 2021 the Ministry of Agriculture completed a 3 year trial of DBF and concluded that it outperformed all other methods. Following the formal adoption of DBF by the Malawian Government we expect DBF to be embedded in Malawi by 2028. Training other organisations and remote training assets for farmers will support this.
Why has this not been taught already? Answers include resistance to change and a common belief that high-tech (often expensive) methods are the solution to hunger. Tiyeni fits between the alternatives of the traditional “ridge/contour” cultivation and the newer “no till” Conservation Agriculture and Regenerative Agriculture, by insisting on breaking the hardpan in the first year. The hard pan under the soil surface is unseen, so people overlook it. But at last, common sense is taking root.