Posted: 20th May 2024

“Firmly Planted” – Agroforestry for Sustainability in Malawi

Welcome to our May news update!

This month we are excited to bring you an update from our project:

“Firmly Planted” – Agroforestry for Sustainability in Malawi

This one-year pilot project is operated in Partnership with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian General Assembly (CCAP-GA).

You are probably aware of the challenging environmental and economic conditions facing Sub-Saharan Africa at the present time and Malawi is no exception. From 2001 to 2021, Malawi lost 209kha of tree cover equivalent to a 14% decrease. Deforestation is primarily caused by agricultural expansion, which in turn is often driven by reducing yields as a result of changing climate and soil degradation. This creates a vicious cycle of deforestation and declining agricultural yields perpetuating the poverty cycle for millions.

Can this situation be reversed?

The quick answer if of course! but it will take time, commitment and faith.  In Psalm 1 we are told that those who trust in the Lord  “will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And whatever [they] do prospers [and comes to maturity]AMB Trans. We trust in God to provide the resources needed for ecosystem rehabilitation and restoration of fruitful agriculture and forestry sectors.

Firmly Planted is a community-based agroforestry initiative with the ambition of making a sustainable impact across Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The programme will resource individual groups to respond to their challenges through agroforestry: addressing deforestation, food insecurity, youth unemployment, and the climate crisis. It is spearheaded by CCAP General Assembly and built around the church’s community structures. Signpost are partnering to support the Blantyre, Malawi phase of the pilot project.

Over the past year, we are delighted to report that despite the ongoing drought in Malawi due to the El Nino weather pattern, the first tree nursery has been opened in Blantyre and over 2000 native trees have been grown from seed and distributed to local farmers and organisations.

Our intention is to continue the partnership with CCAP beyond this pilot phase and seek funding from donors including the Church of Scotland through a carbon off-setting offering to its Presbyteries.  The long-term aim is to establish flourishing nurseries in every Synod of the CCAP and provide a sustainable supply of trees which will help to reduce atmospheric carbon, improve soil conservation, and enhance incomes and food security for target beneficiaries.

For more information on the project and to hear about our hopes for the next phase contact Stephen Cooper our Overseas Desk Officer.  Stephen would be glad to keep you updated on progress. Contact him on stephen@signpost-international.org

For further information on the ground in Malawi contact our partner Gary Brough at gbrough@churchofscotland.org.uk