Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM)

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The Challenge

A major issue affecting agricultural productivity in Malawi is the continuing decline of soil fertility. Several factors contribute to this issue, including poor farming practices, rapid population growth and limited access to appropriate technology. Farmers can help improve soil fertility by adopting improved agricultural practices, but they often lack the necessary information and knowledge. This problem is compounded by inadequate extension services that fail to address issues of soil fertility.

Our Solution

One way to increase soil fertility is to take advantage of the ability of groundnuts to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. The Integrated Soil Fertility Management project seeks to promote the integration of groundnuts in maize-based systems as a means of improving soil fertility and increasing crop production. Farm Radio Trust is working to accomplish this goal by providing farmers with extension services that will help increase the productivity of groundnut farming. These extension services are provided through a communication strategy that utilizes participatory radio programming and other ICTs.


The ISFM project is being jointly implemented with Millennium Villages Project (MVP). MVP is providing much of the agricultural expertise and resources to farmers, while Farm Radio Trust is responsible for carrying out an ICT-based communication strategy to complement these activities. Our communication strategy has four major points:

  1. The participatory radio campaign (PRC) approach is being employed to ensure broadcast content aligns with the interests and needs of farmers.
  2. The PRCs are broadcast regularly and multiple times per week on the two most popular radio stations in the Zomba and Mzimba districts – Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Mzimba Community Radio Station respectively – so that we can reach the widest possible audience.
  3. The Freedom Fone interactive voice response (IVR) system is used to store radio broadcasts and agricultural tips so that farmers can access this information via mobile phone.
  4. Frontline SMS service is used to send alerts and messages related to the agricultural programming to thousands of cell phones in the impact areas.


Achievements to be posted at a later date.

ISFM Project Profile

Focus: Soil Fertility, Groundnut and Maize Production

Location: Zomba and Mzimba districts, Malawi

Implementation Period: November 2012-October 2015

Status: Ongoing

Project Lead:  Pauline Mbukwa, Program Officer

Partners: Millenium Villages Project, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security

Radio Station Partners: Chanco Community Radio Mzimba Community Radio Station, Zodiak Broadcasting Station