The Anchor Farm Project in Malawi is working with over 105,000 smallholder farmers during the 2016-2017 season.

The Anchor Farm Project integrates commercial farming and smallholder farmer outreach, providing farmers with access to inputs, agronomic knowledge, and markets. In Malawi, Tukula Farming Company, established by CDI to manage operations of the commercial farms, employs 70 full-time staff and more than 300 seasonal farm workers, and, during the 2016-2017 season, provides access to low cost, high quality inputs to over 105,000 farmers. In 2016, more than $1 million in sales were generated for Tukula. CDI field officers, with the help of lead farmers in CDI's farmer groups and associations, illustrate the benefits of using certified seed, implementing conservation climate-smart agriculture practices, investing in fertilizer and agro-chemicals, and practicing other advanced agronomic techniques.

Malawi is amongst the least developed countries in the world. Agriculture represents nearly 35 percent of the GDP and employs more than 85 percent of the population. The country's agricultural sector is dependent on rain-fed agriculture and as the impacts of climate change increase, Malawi is at a greater risk of food insecurity. Additionally, Malawi is land-locked, making access to markets difficult. CDI's programs in Malawi are active in Dowa, Neno, Kasungu, and Mchinji districts, which have a combined population of more than 1.5 million people, the majority of whom live in rural villages and operate small farms. CDI works with commercial partners, from commodity traders to carbon financers in Malawi, to ensure that smallholders maximize and retain the revenue from their own crops.

Commercial Farming

In 2013, CDI established a private, for-profit entity called Tukula Farming Company, to manage the operations of the commercial farms in Malawi. CDI is committed to improving the local supply of certified seed and developing climate-smart conservation agriculture for both the commercial farms and smallholder farmer clubs so farmers can accurately and better plan their businesses. Tukula currently operates five farm estates in the Mchinji and Kasungu Districts with a total of 3,300 hectares. Tukula cultivates seed and commercial row crops, as well as cover crops for soil rehabilitation. 

Smallholder Outreach

CDI works with smallholder farmers in the central region of Malawi, with a focus on soybean as a high-value substitute for tobacco as the cash crop because of its ability to revitalize soil and strong nutritional profile. The project has grown from working with 200 farmers in the first year to more than 105,000 farmers in the Mchinji, Dowa, Ntchisi, and Kasungu districts during the 2016-2017 season. Field officers have established a well-organized and empowered network of farmer clubs and associations with the help of lead farmers and government extension workers. Lead farmers act as peer advisors, communicating knowledge to and answering questions from fellow club members. CDI works with local financial institutions to increase the pool of capital and agriculture-specific financial products available to smallholder farmers through the established farmer groups.