Title: Factors that influence the adoption of compost in Nyanja EPA, Lilongwe District, Malawi

Author(s): Binna Kipandula
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Thamar M. Heijstra
Sustainable land management, soil fertility decline, compost, top-down approach, bottom-up approach


Agriculture is the backbone of Malawi’s economy, and it employs 70% of the rural population. The degradation of soil and land causes major problems to agriculture, affecting food security and livelihoods. The Department of Land Resources Conservation in Malawi is promoting sustainable land management practices, such as the use of compost, as a way of restoring degraded land. Despite the effort made, the adoption of compost is still very low. Thus, this study aimed at assessing factors that lead to the low adoption of compost use by smallholder farmers in Nyanja EPA, Lilongwe district. Fifteen interviews were conducted in July 2022, with three key informants and 12 farmers. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. The findings showed that farmers in this area have a positive opinion of the compost technology. However top-down extension approaches, transportation of compost to the field, the slow decomposition of compost, land holding size, labour availability, and resource scarcity are the challenges leading to the low adoption of compost in this area. The findings from key informants indicated that adoption increases when incentives are attached to the programmes. To increase the adoption of compost, the researcher recommends the use of both bottom-up and top-down extension approaches in disseminating compost technologies. Farmers should be given the opportunity to provide more input into the planning process, as they have some knowledge and experience of the method. Farmers could work in small village groups to help one another with activities that require more labour and should put more focus on the initial stage of the project to make it a successful experience. This study also recommends that the government and other institutions involved in promoting soil fertility improvement technologies consider the provision of soft loans or subsidies to farmers for carrying equipment, such as wheelbarrows and carts.

Documents and links