Gliricidia-maize intercropping system: an extension trainer's guide uri icon


  • In Malawi, the challenges faced by farmers are numerous; small landholdings, increasing population, depleted soils, declining yields, and limited access to credit facilities and farm inputs. These challenges have forced many smallholder farmers in Malawi to abandon traditional fallow rotation practices, or cultivate marginal lands, and in recent years, rely on food and fertilizer subsidies annually, as returns to land become low or negative. Maize production is hampered by low soil fertility and nutrient mining in Malawi, as in many countries in Southern Africa, where soils are depleted of nitrogen and other essential nutrients, and where smallholders cannot afford chemical fertilizers. A solution was formulated in the early 1990â??s by researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre and their national partners in Malawi. In response to the challenges faced by smallholder farmers in Malawi, researchers at ICRAF, along with its partners, have developed a new agroforestry technique called â??Gliricidia-maize intercroppingâ??. After years of research work, ICRAF scientists have discovered that fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing trees, such as Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium) can be used to achieve an improved fallow effect while simultaneously allowing cropping of the same piece of land. This innovation adapted principles from existing technologies like hedgerow intercropping to address the needs of smallholder farmers who require agroforestry techniques that maximize crop space and reduce or eliminate fallow periods; eliminate the hedge effect and space occupied by trees identified as disincentive in the contemporary simultaneous systems. In effect intercropping has improved on existing technologies by adjusting the spacing and management of the trees to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs to the smallholder farmer (see Akinnifesi et al, 2006)

publication date

  • 2006