21 August 2020, Malawi: Peter Mwangofi is a pigeonpea farmer from Karonga district in Malawi. He relies on the crop for both food and income. Over the past few years, Mwangofi has seen a decline in pigeonpea produce, mainly due to land pressure, as he now has a smaller landholding than he did in the past.
In 2016, Mwangofi was part of an exchange visit that ICRISAT organized for farmers in Karonga, to learn about pigeonpea ratooning, from an experienced commercial farmer in Mangochi district.
Ratooning involves taking advantage of pigeonpea’s perennial life cycle, whereby a farmer harvests from the same pigeonpea plants for two successive years. Currently, Mwangofi harvested about two times what he harvested during the previous season, as ratooning has allowed the crop to have more branches and pods. Before ratooning, he harvested 250 kg on his 0.1 ha piece of land, while after ratooning he harvested 480 kg on the same piece of land.
“This is a very good practice. It requires less effort but doubles harvests. No additional seed is required and I save on labor as I can skip activities such as planting and making ridges. I am grateful to ICRISAT for arranging the trip that has changed my life.
Exchange visits are among the participatory and experiential learning approaches that ICRISAT uses for extension. Through this approach, farmers see, learn and ultimately adopt new practices from people with similar experience, without the barrier of language, a common challenge for researchers.
Project impact on pigeonpea cultivation in Malawi
During the Malawi Seed Industry Development Project (Phase II) project period, 1262.2 metric tons of pigeonpea certified seed was produced. Based on a beneficiary tracking survey, 38,477 households have adopted various technologies, mostly improved seed of different cereal and legume crops, including new pigeonpea varieties.