Sustainable Intensification of Mixed Farming Systems (SI-MFS) in Malawi (MSc thesis)

Published on
January 17, 2023

Posting: 6 months (Feb-Aug 2023)

Location: Malawi


The majority of farms in Sub Saharan Africa are mixed systems. In mixed farming systems (MFS) livestock is combined with crop cultivation with mutual benefits. Population growth, urbanization, water scarcity, soil degradation, climate change, evolving food consumption patterns and food price volatility are pressures concerning these systems. They deepen inequalities in resource access and in social inequality. These challenges can be mitigated by sustainable intensification (SI), which is defined as the production of more food on the same piece of land while reducing the negative environmental impact. In the SI-MFS initiative of the CGIAR SI and MFS are connected to improve effectiveness and scale of agricultural developments to achieve the global SGD targets.

WUR-PPS contributes to this initiative in terms of farming systems analytics related to development and application of methodologies in case study areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Malawi. In previous research socio-technical bundles of activities have been defined already and the successful adoption and scaling depends on fine-tuning to farming systems contexts and farm types. Trade-offs have to be balanced and synergies between objectives in various sustainability domains at short and longer time horizons need to be understood. This requires a good understanding of the interplay and dependencies of stakeholders.

We aim to focus our efforts mostly on the activities supporting the co-design of SI options with and for different types of MFS farmers.

The student will work closely together with the Malawian country team of SI-MFS. The student will conduct participatory research to co-evaluate several socio-technical bundles through experimentation and co-identify relevant criteria and indicators together with different types of male and female farmers. These indicators will later be used in the co-evaluation of tested SI options. The methods for this will include focus group discussions, setting up experiments, surveys and interviews and possibly serious gaming. The results will be written up in a thesis, and it will be possible to use the same methodology in other countries and case studies of the initiative.