By Dalitso Baloyi, Virginia Mzunzu Kwizombe, Ulemu Chiyenda and Mary Corbett

 Abstract

Self Help Africa (SHA) Malawi is implementing the ‘Better Extension Training Transforming Economic Returns (BETTER) program which is part of the KULIMA (Kutukula Ulimi Malawi) program, financed by the European Union. The BETTER project is a five-year (2018-2022) project being implemented in ten (10) districts by a consortium of four partner organisations: Self-Help Africa (Lead Agency), Plan International, Action Aid, and Evangelical Association of Malawi. The overall objective of the project is to increase resilience, food, nutrition, and income security of 402,000 smallholder farmers through 13, 400 Farmer Field Schools (FFS) approach. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) is the responsible for the training/capacity building of master trainers and community-based facilitators as part of the FFS approach.

The program promotes nutrition-sensitive agriculture, to ensure the project yields maximum benefits on nutrition outcomes. This is done by integrating nutrition education in all the value chain activities in the FFS’s to ensure that participants receive adequate knowledge to link their food production with improved nutrition practices, while also promoting their ability to consume a diversified diet.

Methodology

The research was conducted towards the end of 2021. The team used mixed and cross-sectional approaches to collect qualitative and quantitative data for the operational research. Participatory research approaches were used to gauge and explain (as well as make recommendations) on the overall functionality, effectiveness, efficacy, short and long- term nutritional benefits of the FFS.

Some Key Findings:

  • Participation in FFS is associated with a threefold increase in receiving skills on nutrition related topics such as formulating a meal plan, knowing a seasonal food availability calendar etc.
  • Participation in FFS was associated with high adoption of nutritional and WASH practices at household levels as compared to non-FFS participants. FFS participants were more likely than non-FFS participants to have a backyard garden, to own livestock and have fruit trees around their homes.
  • FFS participants were 3 times more likely to meet their minimum dietary diversity requirement than non-FFS participants (OR =3.592, p<0.001).
  • FFS participants were 3 times more likely to meet their minimum dietary diversity requirement than non-FFS participants (OR =3.592, p<0.001).

The links below include a short and long version of the study report.

FINAL Operational Research Integrating Nutrition in FFS web-short version (2)

FINAL Operational Research Integrating Nutrition in FFS