Malawi mirrors many socioeconomic and ecological systems across Africa in that complex factors drive high food insecurity, deforestation, soil degradation, and urbanisation. Agricultural interventions relying on store-bought fertilisers and synthetic pesticides have not delivered anticipated benefits, and demand for fuelwood and agricultural land is driving significant changes in land use. These challenges threaten human well-being, biodiversity, and ecosystem services such as pollination and pest control. A growing body of research suggests that agro-ecological practices, such as the use of pesticidal plants as botanical sprays and crop diversification, may buffer a farm against biodiversity loss resulting from land use change. Yet little of this research explores biodiversity scenarios for African agro-ecosystems that account for the link between biodiversity and ecosystem services (including crop productivity) and for how local-level practices scale to landscape-level benefits.
FARMS4Biodiversity engages farmers in Malawi in collaboration with scientists (including from Malawi) from diverse fields, in order to examine five questions:
  1. Can agro-ecological practices at different scales buffer against the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services?
  2. Are there breakpoints of adoption above which biodiversity and ecosystem services are best retained?
  3. Do social roles and/or forces influence agro-ecological practice adoption and community resilience?
  4. Can participatory scenario planning enhance resilience and biodiversity in light of climate and land use changes?
  5. Do new institutional/policy frameworks facilitate the use of agro-ecological practices?



Supported by BayFOR:

Research Focus:

  • Agriculture / Fisheries / Bioeconomy
  • Environment / Natural Resources / Biodiversity
  • Food / Nutrition
  • Technology


Germany (Bavaria), Malawi

Funding Agency:

European Union (EU)