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Tiyeni method - deep bed bio-intensive farming: Research scoping visit report

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During the first year the Tiyeni method starts with deep tillage to 30-cm (two hoe-lengths). After tilling, farmers create beds which have a width of 100-cm and furrow of 50-cm. To facilitate rotations, half of a plot is planted with a non-legume (maize) and the other half with legumes (equal portions of bambara nuts, groundnuts and soybean). The maize is planted at a spacing of 75-cm between beds and 25-cm between hills, giving a similar plant population to “Sasakawa” ridges of 60,000 plants/ha. Bokash manure is mixed with fertilizer and spot applied twice at the planting holes. The fertilizer/manure rates are 5 kg 23:21:0 +4s plus 25 kg manure as a basal dressing and 5 kg urea plus 25 kg manure as a top dressing. Weeding is done by light hoeing. When working, one must not step on the beds to avoid compacting.
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c/o Chitedze Research Station
Off Mchinji Road
Lilongwe, Malawi
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Tel: +265 1 707 387
Mobile: +265 991 797 571
Email: p.mponela@cgiar.org
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CIAT is a
CGIAR center
Tiyeni method - deep bed bio-intensive farming: Research scoping visit report
Six year old Honga demonstration plot. Photo by Powell Mponela
Contents
INTRODUCTION 1
ITINERARY 2
PRE-FIELD BRIEFING AT THE OFFICE 3
GENERAL FIELD OBSERVATIONS 3
NKHATABAY DISTRICT 4
Honga demonstration 4
Extension farmer Mrs. Vaness Banda nee Vula 5
Khankulukulu 7
MZIMBA DISTRICT 8
Msipazi demonstration center, the singing
women group 8
Extension farmer 9
Matuli demonstration plot (lat 597683 long
8730380) 9
Chipapa demonstration site 10
KHANKULUKULU FUNCTIONAL LANDSCAPE
APPROACH (FLA) RESEARCH BY THE UNIVERSITY
OF WORCESTER 11
SUMMARY AND REFLECTIONS BY TIYENI TEAM 15
What are the labour requirements? 15
What is being done in terms of fertility
management? 15
How could Tiyeni use research to learn more
about the deep bed system? 16
NOTABLE AREAS FOR RESEARCH 16
By Powell Mponela and James Ellisen 12-13 November, 2015
Page 1 of 18
INTRODUCTION
The scoping visit was initiated by James Ellison who is currently studying Tropical
Agriculture at the University of Goettingen. James is conducting research on soil and water
conservation under the supervision of Dr. Desta in the highlands of Ethiopia where a number
of sustainable land management projects are being implemented by CIAT. After his short
experience with CIAT’s work in Ethiopia and being briefed on their current research in
Malawi, James was interested to explore how research could be used to generate evidence for
Tiyeni on their deep bed system.
CIAT is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
body of agricultural institutions and carries out its mandate to conduct soil and landscape
management research in Malawi. CIAT has a legal agreement with the Malawian government
dating back to the 1970s. Over the decades, CIAT has contributed to a number of targeted soil
fertility management and soil testing services. At present, CIAT in Malawi is implementing a
program in soil fertility improvement in maize mixed farming systems and conducting
participatory action research on land use planning and management with local communities,
the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Germany, Total Land Care and
Bunda College.
Tiyeni is a local organization with an office in Mzuzu City and has field operations in the two
adjoining districts of Nkhata Bay and Mzimba. More information about the work by Tiyeni
can be found on the website: http://www.tiyeni.org/. It was initiated in 2005 by John Crossley
(of the UK) with the aim of giving people a means to enhance their own food security and so
as not to depend on handouts even during times of national famine. They have empowered
farmers to grow food on small plots and attain bumper yields in the face of declining soil
fertility and moisture levels due to climate variability.
James worked with Tiyeni assisting local communities as a volunteer for a half-year in 2013.
By then the organization had 3 employees but has since grown to 15 employees and the impact
area has since expanded from 5 to 36 villages. The growth of Tiyeni has been more of a
social/farmer-led phenomenon in that Tiyeni only enters a community after being invited
formally by the Village head. The techniques they aim to disseminate consist of establishing
deeply-tilled raised beds which are subsequently subjected to minimum tillage, manure
application and legume/cereal rotations. Since Tiyeni’s mission is spread these techniques
throughout Malawi as fast as possible, they want other NGOs and government to adopt these
methods. They have been approached by the Malawi government several times, and they
express increasing interest.
Tiyeni was recently visited by a BBC reporter who was reporting on how the Tiyeni deep bed
method is a "preventative" approach that increases yields and lessens the need for "after-the-
fact" famine relief spending. The idea is to juxtapose investments in Tiyeni's method against
the spending on flood relief in the south of the country. In this way, spending on land
husbandry is money better spent than simply after-the-fact flood/ land degradation relief.
Page 2 of 18
Despite massive increases in funding for Tiyeni and anecdotal evidence of yield increases
observed by participating farmers, they have not generated enough scientific evidence to
prove the method. Many questions have arisen (i.e. whether SOM is increasing, how this is
impacting yields, and many others to be given later in this report) which need to be addressed.
It is from this background that the role of research was envisaged to be crucial. This
explorative trip aimed to evaluate the potential for testing the various Tiyeni-promoted
technologies through both on-station and on-farm research, as well as to devise data collection
tools for in-field measurements at existing demonstration plots.
The scoping trip consisted of one-and-a-half days of field visits followed by a summary
meeting with top Tiyeni staff.
ITINERARY
Thursday
Morning: Following a briefing at the Tiyeni’s office in Mzuzu town, we first visited the 6-year
old Honga demonstration garden (Thursday is the meeting day for extension farmers at the
demo garden) and the garden of a veteran “extension farmer.” An extension farmer is a
member who, upon learning the technologies at the demonstration plot, implements some or
all of those technologies on some portion of his/her field and acts as a hub for technology
dissemination to other willing farmers within the village. He/she offers training and advises
others and there is evidence that the learners become adopters as well.
Afternoon: Visit to Khankulukulu, a catchment site where landscape-scale observations and
interventions are being made according to the “functional landscape approach,” or FLA.
Implementation of the FLA is being done only at this site through the efforts of the University
of Worcester. The FLA pilot project here hopes to incorporate the Tiyeni deep-bed system on
farmland, but aims to ultimately enhance land management at the catchment scale through
community dialogues and institution strengthening. Monitoring for this project is ongoing
and started in September of this year, 2015.
Friday
Morning: Visit to Msipazi and Matuli where we see two newly established demonstrations,
one extension farmer, and an ARET demonstration on tobacco using deep beds, and finally to
a 3-year old demonstration at Chipapa.
Afternoon: At the Tiyeni office (Mzuzu town) for a one-hour summary meeting and dialogue
on opportunities for collaboration between CIAT and Tiyeni.
Page 3 of 18
PRE-FIELD BRIEFING AT THE OFFICE
In attendance
Tiyeni: Godfrey Kumwenda, Evans Mkumbwa and Namelord Phiri; CIAT: Powell
Mponela and James Ellison
During this meeting it was stressed that this being the first visit, it was to be a learning trip to
find common working ground between Tiyeni and CIAT with regard to bridging Tiyeni’s
programs with research.
The Tiyeni team gave a brief overview of the Tiyeni method:
The project promotes the use of beds that are considered to have advantages over
conventional ridges in terms of soil and water conservation. It was noted that the beds
resist erosion, and that deep tillage (to 30-cm depth) breaks the hardpan thereby
enhancing percolation and the root-ability of annual crops.
The project also encourages farmers to plant agroforestry trees and shrubs.
Farmers are also taught how to make compost manure using Bokash method.
Since 2005 the project has expanded from 34 farmers to 1500 farmers that have adopted the
technology on their farms.
The project responds to the invitation of village heads who are the entry points. In most cases,
the village leader allocates land for the establishment of a demonstration plot. Farmers then
adopt after learning.
The questions raised by Tiyeni staff during this meeting were:
How long should the beds remain undisturbed? In other words, after how many
seasons is it necessary to loosen the beds and re-break the hardpan, if at all? Currently
deep tillage and beds are redone after 5 years.
What is the impact of manure mineralization during the 5-year period?
How could research assist farmers?
How would data be shared between researchers and the project?
NOTE: Tiyeni was asked by national researchers during a conference by the Department of
Land Resources Conservation in September 2015 to generate evidence for their claimed
successes. Tiyeni is thus poised to find a partner to conduct research and publish the results.
GENERAL FIELD OBSERVATIONS
During the first year the Tiyeni method starts with deep tillage to 30-cm (two hoe-lengths).
After tilling, farmers create beds which have a width of 100-cm and furrow of 50-cm.
To facilitate rotations, half of a plot is planted with a non-legume (maize) and the other half
with legumes (equal portions of bambara nuts, groundnuts and soybean).
The maize is planted at a spacing of 75-cm between beds and 25-cm between hills, giving a
similar plant population to “Sasakawa” ridges of 60,000 plants/ha.
Page 4 of 18
Bokash manure is mixed with fertilizer and spot applied twice at the planting holes. The
fertilizer/manure rates are 5 kg 23:21:0 +4s plus 25 kg manure as a basal dressing and 5 kg urea
plus 25 kg manure as a top dressing.
Weeding is done by light hoeing.
When working, one must not step on the beds to avoid compacting.
NKHATABAY DISTRICT
Honga demonstration
The Honga demonstration plot was established in 2009 with the full set of technologies
including deep beds, agroforestry and bokash compost manure.
The agroforestry shrub Tephrosia vogelli is used for medicine and manure. Some farmers
harvest its green leafy biomass for compost making though the demo garden group is
allowing the litter to fall. Some people use it for fishing.
Farmers have observed that the Tiyeni method (locally known as Mubedi) gives consistently
better yields than ridges. However, it was noted that the yield from the 0.09 ha demo plot has
increased from just 50 kg in the first year to 395 kg during the 2014/15 growing season (this
translates to 0.5 to 4.4 ton/ha, respectively).
In the same time period, the yield of legumes has increased as follows: bambara nut has
remained steady at 20 kg, groundnuts from 5 to 10 kg, and soybean from 15 to 25 kg.
Mulch of the maize stover is eaten by termites since the plot is next to a termite mound. The
problem is localized and not prominent in the area.
In terms of labour used, farmers were able to recall the number of persons that worked, the
dates and approximate number of hours they took to till the plot and construct the beds.
In terms of adoption, the group chairperson has the largest field under the Tiyeni method
from which he harvested 600 kg during previous season (field size unknown).
Non-club members have not been adopting.
The chief is a member of the club. Membership during 2009 was at 25 persons but has since
reduced to 17 during the 2014/15 season because some members from the adjoining village
have started their own club.
Bokash manure composition: maize bran, tephrosia, grass, cassava husks, ash, and virgin soil
It was noted that during reconstruction of the plot, the beds in one part of the plot were
compacted while the beds in the other part were significantly more workable. The difference
was due to soil type as the former had a clayey texture whereas the latter was sandier.
Honga has been a pioneer site for Tiyeni, and the number of farmers have reached more than
60 with most members extending the portion of their fields under the Tiyeni method every
year.
Page 5 of 18
Mix of inputs for bokash at Honga. Photo by Powell Mponela
Remarks by the Chairperson: the visit showed that what they are doing is important. The
major problem they face is the broken down maize mill which was donated and for which
they are seeking assistance.
Extension farmer Mrs. Vaness Banda nee Vula
Vaness adopted the Tiyeni method on the field near her house in June 2014. Previously she
was a participant at the Honga demonstration club and has joined the newly formed
Manyundo club. She was amongst the best-performing farmers and has been given a pig
through Tiyeni’s pass-on program. Her land under the Tiyeni method is 0.27 ha in size, and
she intends to expand.
She came to settle in the area 7 years ago and struggled with persistently low yields until 2014.
In May 2014, she was invited by Mrs. Shira of the Honga club and met the Tiyeni extension
officer Mr. Phiri who was teaching about the new farming technique using beds and manure.
She learned the Tiyeni method and started practicing on the field next to her house.
Before planting she applied manure at a spacing of 25-cm. She planted maize on 30th
November. Soon after planting, there was a dry spell lasting 25 days until 25th December.
Other farmers - even those that planted in generally moist lowlands watched their maize
wither, but the maize she planted on beds maintained their vigor. She likens her maize on
beds to planting on a dam with water below.
She harvested 75 tins (each weighing approximately 20 kg), although she estimates it would
have been 90 tins had she not taken green maize during the hunger period. The maize she
harvested from her 0.27 ha area has been enough to feed her family.
Page 6 of 18
Deep bed farm for Agness Banda (standing at the centre). Photo by Powell Mponela
The husband to Vaness, who also helps with their plot, said that after visiting the other Tiyeni
farms and travelling to the Central region where he saw crops withering, he started to believe
the problem was not dry spells or drought, but rather poor water management.
Piggery for bokash and pass on given to Agness by Tiyeni. Photo by Powell Mponela
She applied 25 kg 23:21:0 +4s and 25 kg urea. She made her own manure using 4 tins of maize
stalks, 4 tins of dry grass, 4 tins of ash, 4 tins green leaves of pigeon peas plus Tephrosia, and
Page 7 of 18
4 tins of cattle/goat dung. To facilitate decomposition, they added one spoonful of yeast and
kept the manure moist for 21 days.
Being a best performing farmer, she has been given a pig and she anticipates to generate own
manure.
In terms of labour, the family worked together for 6 months to till and construct beds. Her
daughter assisted for 2 weeks. They cleared the land during May, tilling was done during June
and July and beds were constructed during August and October. They generally worked
between 2 and 5 pm after working on ganyu during morning hours. During tillage they could
also work from 1am to 6am when there was a bright moon.
She has been giving advice to other farmers. One person that she taught is a Mr. Moyo who
farms the other side of the hill. He is not member of Tiyeni but started using deep beds. The
chief from Choma village also visited her for advice, and he has started at a relatively large
scale. Also, people have visited from surrounding villages to learn from her, including the
Bua area.
The formation of the Manyundu club also emanated from her influence on other farmers
within the village who became interested in the method.
Closing remark: the husband said that they are encouraged by the fact that other farmers are
adopting. More importantly, most of them are women who want to change the hunger
situation in their households.
Khankulukulu
Traditional mounds and conventional ridges Chimkuluchina Hills. Photo by Powell Mponela
Page 8 of 18
One farmer who has been practicing Tiyeni for 3 years gave an account of his field. He
compared the yields he has observed from Tiyeni beds versus traditional ridges and mounds.
From a 10 x 10 m plot, the Tiyeni method gave 5 tins while the ridges gave 3 tins. He had been
a member of the nearby Bula club before joining Khankulukulu.
In terms of labour, he could not recall the number of days needed since he often worked
sporadically. Sometimes he works on other fields. His field has grown from one plot during
the 1st year during which he yielded 10 tins from a 19mx10m plot. He tilled another plot during
the 2nd year (yielding 20 tins) and five plots during the 3rd year (yielding 42 tins).
On community engagement, the village head said he might have the powers to mobilise the
entire village to do community-level interventions like deep beds on a catchment scale.
Remarks: How does Tiyeni support farmers who want to learn about the Tiyeni method?
Tiyeni promotes knowledge sharing. One old man is known to have travelled a long distance
upon hearing that Mrs Banda of Manyundu had better yields. After learning from her, he
started his own field. He has so far tilled 1.5 acres. Hence, if people are willing, Tiyeni will
support an individual to travel and teach others.
MZIMBA DISTRICT
Msipazi demonstration center, the singing women group
Newly prepared field ready for planting at Msipazi. Photo by Powell Mponela
The group had just prepared the mother plot (1st year), and some have also adopted in their
own fields. The participants are from two villages, Msipazi and Kadikechi, under the group
village Nkunika. 23 farmers had already started using the technology on their farms. The
group village head is a member of the club and has been in the forefront encouraging other
farmers to join the group and participate in the group work. However, he noted that with
Page 9 of 18
1,030 households in his area, he may not have command of the majority so as to promote the
technology throughout the area.
One farmer who had cultivated a larger area than most in her first year (Mayi Loveness) had
hired a local group called a Fund whom she paid K1500 to cultivate close to ½ acre. The
majority of farmers had prepared Tiyeni fields bigger than the demonstration plot of 0.07 ha.
The group prepares bokash manure by mixing 4 pails of animal dung, ½ pail of ash, yeast, 1
pail of maize bran, 4 pails of green leaves of Tithonia (locally known as Deliya), and 4 pails of
fertile soil, and leaving it for 21 days to decompose. One manure pile is enough for 3 Tiyeni
beds, and they make enough to apply on the 14-bed demonstration plot.
Extension farmer
The farmer had just tilled and marked the land for plot and bed construction. The owner was
not around for discussion, but we had the opportunity for a discussion with the Tiyeni
extension officers and the project’s agronomy manager. The questions were as follows.
What could be the best approach to deal with large amounts of runoff coming from upslope
and entering Tiyeni fields? This situation could severely affect the potential of a Tiyeni field.
Although Tiyeni’s technology has been observed to contain rainfall within the furrows and to
allow a slow seepage of rainwater laterally into the sides of the beds (since the furrow bottom
is compacted), the oncoming flow from upslope can be a serious problem that needs to be
regulated. There is need for a landscape approach, but Tiyeni is only focusing on upland
cropland at the moment.
What would be the most suitable agroforestry shrubs that are adapted to the areas? It was
discussed that in some cases, a mismatch between species and the site/society might lead to
non-adoption.
Matuli demonstration plot
The site selected by Matuli is different from the rest in that the soils are sandier. As such larger
quantities of manure and fertilizer are applied. Fertilizer is applied at a double rate of 10 kg
NPK plus 50 kg manure and later 10 kg urea plus 50 kg manure.
The group has created 2 sets of demonstrations juxtaposed. Next to the standard the one with
maize and legumes is a “control” plot using conventional ridges that will be planted with
maize and given a similar manure treatment. A non-manure control was not included. Tiyeni
is testing a third demo in partnership with ARET, a tobacco research trust that is interested in
investigating the suitability of Tiyeni beds for tobacco. The owner of the tobacco plot (Mr.
Dalison Nyirongo) used a mould board plough for deep tillage prior to constructing beds. The
soils are sandy.
Page 10 of 18
Newly established Matuli demonstration plot. Photo by Powell Mponela
For manure making, they are using leaves of selected indigenous
trees and hedges from select species instead of agroforestry species.
The species used are those that have leaves that decompose easily and
are considered to have potential to increase soil fertility (this needs to
be verified). The trees include Mubali, Musoyo/chisoyo,
Musekese/chisekese and another unidentified species. They mix with
ash and charcoal from brick burning kilns, maize stover, and fertile
soil from the forest.
Chipapa demonstration site
The last demonstration visited was in the 3rd year in Mzimba district. The farmers have
juxtaposed 3 plots one in 3rd year, another in 2nd and the other in 1st year. Farmers are also
extending the Tiyeni method n their farms. The farmer with largest piece has ½ hectare.
Most farmers now have ¼ hectares under Tiyeni method. Although they follow similar
procedures, the people of the village use leaves of Techtona grandis for additions of leafy
biomass to bokash. Tephrosia and other nutrient rich agroforestry shrubs. In terms of
dealing with labour constraints, the club suggested if they could benefit from mechanization
programs in terms of oxen plough and tractors. They noted that it is labour intensive once
but farmers save labour in subsequent 4 years before re-building beds.
Page 11 of 18
KHANKULUKULU FUNCTIONAL LANDSCAPE APPROACH (FLA) RESEARCH BY
THE UNIVERSITY OF WORCESTER
First we had a briefing by the field officer representing the University of Worcester (doing
FLA)
Field officer for FLA (second from right) explaining water level measurements.
Photo by Powell Mponela
The following activities have been initiated or planned:
1) Institutional analysis with 25 farmers. (The club had 30 farmers but several have
dropped.)
2) Livelihoods monitoring /analysis focusing on farmers belonging to Khankulukulu and
willing to do Tiyeni deep beds.
3) Monitor Tiyeni vs non-Tiyeni fields belonging to the same farmer.
4) Scoping of farmers’ field management practices.
5) Initiation of village savings and loans (VSL) by forming a committee.
6) Marketing establishment of a market
7) Biodiversity monitoring- sustainable management of wetlands within Kankhulukulu
catchment.
8) Establishment of buffer zones between upland fields and dambo irrigation areas. For
example, one farmer visited has left according to tradition - an area uncultivated
between the dambo and upland.
9) Photos are being taken by community members (who are equipped with a digital
camera) of local indicators of soil fertility, water quality and availability and resilience.
10) The same is being done to capture photos of pests, like rats residing in buffer areas.
11) Resilience ranking
Page 12 of 18
12) State of technologies being promoted
Deep bed system one farmer was already practicing, but the demo is starting this
season.
Buffer zones some started but the majority have not
Manure-making
The catchment for Khankulukulu stream taken from “meeting house”. Photo by Powell Mponela
The project is taking measurements and visual analyses of:
1) Soil samples were analyzed for 10 fields, 5 treatment and 5 non-treatment plots to set
a baseline.
2) Infiltration
3) Texture
4) Structure (hardpans, aggregate soil distribution of clumps)
5) Colour
6) Life (macro fauna)
7) Root growth
8) pH
9) Electric conductivity
10) Dispersion and shrinking
11) Rainfall is being measured using 1 automatic and 3 manual rain gauges
12) Water levels for irrigation
13) 2 level loggers in stream
14) 1 automatic water well shell that records pressure and temperature and is downloaded
monthly
15) Water levels in dambos using plastic pipes to measure contribution of groundwater
16) Water colour in wells using white plate method to measure turbidity (not started)
Page 13 of 18
A visit to the field where an automatic water well logger and pipes are installed led to a
discussion with the Khankulukulu group on measures that could help ensure that the dambo
does not dry up. It was noted that presence of water was associated with Syzigium cordatum
(katope tree), which is considered an indicator for water.
James gave anecdotal experience from Tanzania where a farmer with a dried up dambo land
tried to replicate what he observed at the river head. The farmer noted that at the head, the
water was still flowing and associated it with the kind of trees/vegetation that was there. He
tried to raise the seedlings of those species and planted those “water indicator” trees between
the dambo and upland parts of his farm. Soon, a spring emerged which he now uses to irrigate
the whole dambo. Mr. Kumwenda of Tiyeni has experience in raising Katope seedlings and is
ready to train farmers if they wish to establish or preserve buffer areas using Katope.
The valleys have been opened up for cultivation in the 1990s. The nearby natural forest reserve
is maintained as a communal forest with customary laws.
Village woodland intact with indegenous trees and water loving S. cordatum along valley.
Photo by Powell Mponela
Page 14 of 18
The valley still with stream flow has S. cordatum and natural vegetation. Photo by Powell Mponela
Adjacent valley spring now without flow and used for open well irrigation.
Photo by Powell Mponela
Page 15 of 18
Vegetable and maize irrigation on valley floor down the open well, previously had stream flow.
Photo by Powell Mponela
SUMMARY AND REFLECTIONS BY TIYENI TEAM
During this meeting the project coordinator, Mary Kajino Gondwe and finance officer, Chance
Mwenitete joined to conclude and chart the way forward.
The main questions raised were:
What are the labour requirements?
It was indicated that a high initial requirement for labour in the first year might affect
adoption; although not necessarily discouraging, it could be prohibitive for establishment
over a larger area.
It was also noted that from the trip, it might be difficult to get accurate information from the
farmer regarding his/her labour input. This poses an opportunity to devise a method to gather
data on labour requirements for the technology. It might also be useful to explore options for
addressing labour challenges through mechanization (e.g., can the recent government tractor
program be relied upon?). Mr. Mkumbwa, a field officer, suggested having a simple trial
involving one man working on a 10 x 10m area to come up with an initial estimate.
What is being done in terms of fertility management?
Bokash: after Tiyeni conducted trainings, farmers have chosen to use bokash largely because
it requires only 21 days before it can be used. The project was previously promoting manure
making using pit composting. The most limiting factor for bokash is animal dung. Pigs are
being distributed via a pass-on program to address this need.
Page 16 of 18
Regarding the tree and shrub species to be used around fields, there is a need to identify the
most useful species.
To establish the optimal depth for furrows, Tiyeni conducted a trial with different furrow
depths (10, 20, 30 and 50 cm) and noted that the 50 cm depth could contain almost all water
and thereby minimize runoff.
In terms of community mobilization, the village headmen, though largely involved in demos
and outscaling, cannot command the larger community for landscape level interventions.
Manure quality, although presumed to be high, is not accurately known, and should be
analyzed.
On soil fertility, the project has been collecting samples for testing at ARET laboratory since
2012, but the data has not been analyzed, and a long-term monitoring plan is not yet in place.
How could Tiyeni use research to learn more about the deep bed system?
There is an urgent need to get involved with research. The Tiyeni staff will develop a proposal
for the trustees who are in UK.
Being a new technology, farmers are interested, and adoption is very good which is attributed
to the yield benefits.
Farmers’ household income and welfare generally increases, as most of them become food
secure compared to seasons before they started using the Tiyeni system.
Tiyeni does not have the capacity to conduct research on its own, and is open to collaboration
with CIAT to conduct research. The project has been working with government informally.
Having research published that validates the method is seen as a gateway to the recognition
needed prior to a large scale-out. They consider research to be crucial to their mission since
there is an urgent need to generate evidence for government, as well as other projects and
donors so as to ultimately be able to reach more farmers.
NOTABLE AREAS FOR RESEARCH
CIAT, as an organization, desires to link with local partners like Tiyeni. Tiyeni has a need for
social, economic, and biophysical evidence in order to generate confidence for stakeholders
in terms of upscaling capacity. While accounting for these three dimensions, research should
address two overarching questions that have dominated this two-day visit:
1. What are the true outcomes and benefits of the Tiyeni method?
2. What are the real constraints to adoption?
From these, a number of subheadings could be mentioned, including:
Community mobilization and how to realize more complete adoption of deep beds
across the landscape.
Page 17 of 18
The strengths and shortcomings of the institutional setup of Tiyeni groups, including
their linkage to larger existing institutional bodies that can enable sustainability. (e.g.
Ostrom’s criteria)
An understanding of the costs of the method (to juxtapose the often-talked-about
‘benefits’), including a thorough understanding of labour requirements.
An understanding of compost quality so as to better guide recommendations, as well
as how best to minimize nutrient losses.
Erosion monitoring (e.g. via erosion plots) could verify the quantity of soil ‘saved’
through the method.
An understanding of the dynamics of Tiyeni beds across different soil types and slope
classes. Is the method appropriate for all soils and slopes, or are adjustments
necessary? How much moisture is conserved across different soils?
Tiyeni deep bed modification in the hills of Khankulukulu. Photo by Powell Mponela
An understanding of fertilizer requirements through a long-term study of net soil
fertility change.
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