Project: Farmer-led Agroecological Research in Malawi using Scenarios for Biodiversity

Acronym FARMS 4 Biodiversity (Reference Number: 202)
Duration 12/01/2018 - 31/03/2022
Project Topic Farming practices in sub-Saharan Africa are often linked with high rates of soil erosion, decreasing soil quality, and increasing use of agrochemicals that have negative impacts on humans and the environment. Concomitantly, land use change threatens regional biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as pollination and biocontrol, upon which farmers depend. Previous research by members of our team shows that, when combined with farmer-led participatory education, agroecological methods have positive impacts on food security, nutrition, and soil health in Malawian communities. However, little is known about how these practices influence biodiversity and ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa, or whether agroecological practices can simultaneously enhance agroecosystem and community resilience. Our project seeks to address existing knowledge gaps and to engage decision-makers in participatory research that will shape agricultural policies across multiple scales. A team of farmer researchers and scientists will conduct research in northern Malawi that explores how agroecological practices and land use impact biodiversity (bees, birds, and natural enemies), ecosystem services, and farmer livelihoods. Using these empirical data, we will model future scenarios of land use change and whether agroecological practices can buffer against loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. We will then involve stakeholders from multiple sectors, disciplines, and socio-economic levels in participatory land-use scenario planning and multi-actor platforms. These activities will facilitate co-production of knowledge and potential solutions. Through transdisciplinary research, we will advance multi-level interventions that support resilient agricultural landscapes. Our study is timely, as Malawi recently updated the National Agricultural Policy and is in the process of implementing strategic plans to protect biodiversity. Given the predominance of agriculturally based rural economies in the region, our research is applicable across much of sub-Saharan Africa.
Website visit project website
Network BiodivScen
Call Scenarios of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Cornell University Coordinator United States
2 Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research Partner Norway
3 Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources Partner Malawi
4 University of Denver Partner United States
5 University of Würzburg Partner Germany
6 Soils Food and Healthy Communities Partner Malawi
7 Western University Partner Canada