International Studies & Programs

Multipurpose Legume-Maize Food-Feed Nexus for Improving Livelihoods of Smallholder Livestock Farmers

In partnership with the Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources, this GCFSI faculty grant project aims to increase and diversify incomes for smallholder farmers by examining farms that both contain livestock and use legume-maize intercropping methods.


Faculty Lead: Andy Safalaoh

This project explores the food-feed nexus dimension in multipurpose legume-maize (MLM) systems under smallholder conditions in Malawi. First, a diagnostic situational analysis will be conducted to understand the status of multipurpose legumes (MPLs) under smallholder MLM livestock systems. This will involve exploring issues related to types of legumes grown, quantities or yield attained, processing methods, and utilization as feed. Focus group discussions will also be conducted to gather information on current livestock feeding systems used by farmers, including the types of feedstuffs and feeding regimes farmers use.

The information gathered from this first stage will be analyzed to identify gaps and potential entry points for strengthening the link between MPLs and different livestock systems, essentially through feeding strategies and income generation.

The second activity will involve on-station and on-farm feeding trials to test, pilot and document how unconventional but new innovative legumes with multiple benefits—lablab (Lablab purpureus) and pigeon peas (Cajanus cajun)—grown under MLM systems can be incorporated not only as food but also as feed under smallholder crop-livestock conditions. These activities will be complemented by nutrient analysis of the legumes, development of rations, and a database for the MPLs. The feed manufactured can also be sold for additional income.

The project will target 1,000 farmers in Lilongwe’s Dedza and Ntcheu districts, 30 percent of which will be women. Dedza and Ntcheu districts have been chosen because these are also pilot target areas for the Africa RISING project, which works to promote maize-legume intercropping in the area. The project activities will benefit the target communities by increasing their awareness of the benefits of integrating MPLs in crop-livestock mixed farming systems. Overall, the project will increase and diversify incomes for smallholder MPL and livestock farmers.