Mandevu Integrated Farms – Who are we really?
Mandevu Integrated Farm, Aquaculture and Ecotourism Centre (MIFAEC) is an established and registered agribusiness investment situated in Machinga district along M3 road ( Zomba –Liwonde road).The farm practices integrated farming mainly comprising of fishery, livestock (pigs, goats ,cattle ,sheep rabbits etc) and poultry (chicken, ducks, turkey, guinea fowl, doves).
MIFAEC is the first privately owned facility of this kind in Malawi. The farm embraces the concept of integrated approach. This is seen through the interconnection of the different components of the farm ecosystem and its immediate environment.
The farm’s sustainability is dependent on many factors such as continuous availability of water. The nearby Malosa mountain and other small hills are important water catchments for the farm. It is therefore important to conserve the forest and maintain stream flows. All trees are conserved except where farm’s activities are taking place. Trees are also being planted along all streams and in other strategic places.
Animal manure is used as input into the fish ponds and tree nursery. Excess water from the fish pond is used to irrigate the tree nursery, vegetable garden and other vegetation on the farm.
Apart from serving the local community, the maize and rice mills form part of the fish and animal feed making centre. Similarly, apart from producing honey, beehives placed throughout the farm, harbour bees which are aimed at enhancing pollination of the flowering plants of the farm.
MIFAC ensures that the society (particularly the local and small scale fish farmers) is also socio-economically empowered. We believe that the survival of MIFAC depends on the success of these small scale farmers.
MIFAC is unique in that within 3 years of inception, it has been able to convert what was previously considered by local community as barren land to very productive land.
The decline in domestic fish consumption due to low supply has prompted various organizations to play a significant role in promoting aquaculture development in order to combat protein deficiency in the diets of many households. Recently His Excellency the State President of Malawi, launched the Presidential Initiative for Aquaculture Development (PIAD) as a way of promoting aquaculture. According to the National Aquaculture Centre in Domasi, pond aquaculture has grown by over 300 percent (1999 to 2005) in the country. The high increase in fish farmers within a very short period and the launching of PIAD has resulted in high demand for fingerlings.
The aquaculture industry is therefore, no doubt a booming industry, however, there is inadequate supply of fingerlings to the aquaculture industry. Currently the National Aquaculture Centre (NAC) at Domasi in Zomba district provides fingerlings to fish farmers in Malawi. A few farmers in Chingale area in Zomba district also produce fingerlings. However, most of these farmers have no appropriate techniques to produce high quality fingerlings and this has created an in balance between the demand and supply of fingerlings.
Based upon the above factors a reconnaissance survey was carried out in 2007 to determine the suitability of aquaculture development.
Since aquaculture has great potential for food production and the alleviation of poverty, a balance between food security and the environmental costs of production must be attained.
The owners of MIFAEC are very conscious about conservation of the environment. The farm’s philosophy is based on close working relationships with all stakeholders and emphasizes an open and continuous dialogue in order to jointly reach the best solutions possible. MIFAEC strives to ensure that all of its projects are planned, built and operated in an environmentally responsible manner conserving resources, positive impact on wildlife and minimal pollution.
In addition to aquaculture, the other main component of the farm is tree seedling production which started in 2008. This provides seedlings for planting at the farm but also to sell them to fish farmers. In addition the seedlings will help in the afforestation programs of the Government and also in mitigating climate change. Every year some seedlings will be provided to primary schools from the surrounding villages as a way of encouraging the young people to conserve vegetation.
The village centre, popularly known as “The Village at Mandevu Farm” is another component of the integrated farm. This is situated within Mandevu Farm and acts as an epicentre where people have a chance of enjoying farm produce e.g. fish, poultry, local foods such as ‘nkuyamani’- local there’re (okra) and traditional dances. The village at Mandevu farm has also a beautiful environment which is anchored by indigenous trees within the farm and vegetated Zomba and Malosa plateaux which allow the sunrays to reflect on the beautiful slopes of the plateaux and a well meandering M3 road coming down from Machinga BOMA. It is an ideal place for relaxation as well as a one stop place where one is assured to have farm fresh products.
With many visitor coming to the farm and the village centre demanding for accommodation, the management of Mandevu Farm therefore constructed chalets within ‘The Village Centre’ where people coming from far could have accommodation. So far 8 chalets are ready for use.
Management of the Village@ Mandevu Farm also constructed a Modern Stage where different Performances and Events take place. Such events can be in form of Weddings, Conferences and Workshops, Debates, Discos, Band performances etc.
The Village@Mandevu Farm has also a very promising brand new band called: MANDEVU FARM BAND. The main thrust of this band is to send out messages of Ecotourism, Protection of the Environment, Reafforestation, Socio-Economic Empowerment of the local communities, Poverty Reduction, Promotion and Preservation of Cultural Values, Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, Gender Equality and Empowerment, Reduction of Child Mortality rate, Child trafficking and Child Labour, Improvement of Maternal Health, Aquaculture, Malawian Culture, Integrated Farming and Ecotourism.
The village centre is also in the process of designing a multipurpose hall where organizations could converge and share research findings, hold meeting, hold social events and many other activities, while sipping and sampling delicious meals and cold drinks from the farm.
With the above, ecotourism is also to be one of the main activities of Mandevu Farm.
Therefore the Integrated Farming approach and other goals of the farm are in line with Government of Malawi and Sustainable Development Goals.