We plant and maintain trees with smallholders in Malawi for food security by developing macadamia agroforestry.
NMT's priority is to support smallholder farmers adapting to climate change through macadamia agroforestry, enabling income generation, improving nutrition and to increase their resilience to unpredictable climate shocks. Macadamia agroforestry recovers the land from deforestation, regenerating the sustainability of the ecosystem and increases food security.NMT works with smallholder farmer co-operatives to support sustainable regenerative macadamia farming, Climate Smart Macadamia Agroforestry, which includes traditional ground crop intercropped with the trees.
Our main partner organisation in Malawi is the Highland Macadamia Co-operative Union Limited - HIMACUL. Through HIMACUL, NMT supports district level primary co-operatives, business centres and the co-operative farmer members. Our current focus is the support of macadamia tree nurseries, tree planting, strengthening co-operatives.
Our funding support is derived from personal and business one-off and recurring donations, small scale grants and CDMC purchases (see below).
Registered charity objectives
The alleviation of poverty and the improvement of the conditions of life in socially and economically disadvantaged communities, in particular Neno and the adjacent districts in Malawi, Africa. In doing so we aim to support farmers in their own initiative. The primary focus is supporting the developing macadamia nut growing industry. Other activities include trade skills training.
carbon damage mitigation & CDMCs
Food security and global CO2 levels are both very serious issues facing the world today. Using NMT's carbon calculator here to purchase certificates helps address these issues.
NMT is producing Carbon Damage Mitigation Certificates (CDMC's) which directly fund smallholder macadamia agroforestry in Malawi. We survey smallholder farmer macadamia trees which are allocated to a mass of CO2 recorded in a certificate you purchase. The certificate is allocated for a period of one year during which time the trees sequester atmospheric CO2.
You can purchase CDMC's using our
for individual, transport and domestic CO2 emissions.
The finance combines carbon sequestration and improving food security in Malawi based on nut trees planted and maintained primarily as a sustainable food source.
What is a CDMC?
A CDMC (a Carbon Damage Mitigation Certificate) links the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by a producer with an absorber of CO2. It registers the mass of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere with a process that absorbs an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. The NMT Carbon Calculator calculates a mass of CO2 emitted by a CDMC purchaser and registers it with a known number of macadamia trees that have been planted by smallholders in Malawi. The cost of the CDMC directly funds the farmers who plant and maintain annually surveyed trees that are registered as absorbing an equivalent mass of the emitted CO2.
The trees have an average absorption rate of CO2 per year and a CDMC remains valid for a year before it is retired. The purpose is to provide a strong link between those using CO2 such that macadamia farmers can receive direct funding for the trees they plant AND maintain annually. The CO2 sequestration by the trees needs to continue for 25 years to be effective. The primary purpose of the trees is for food security which then increases the security of the tree for a minimum 25 year lifespan. In Malawi the trees are also viewed as a pension crop investment, even for young farmers which increases the 25 year security of the tree.
Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, CO2
Carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up about 0.04% of the Earth's atmosphere.
A very important property of atmospheric CO2 is its absorption of infrared radiation from the Earth's surface. This absorbs heat energy from the Earth which would otherwise escape into space - known as the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases, such as CO2, are important for preventing the Earth cooling from heat radiation losses but also if atmospheric concentrations are too high cause an increase of Earth's temperature. Each greenhouse gas has an index known as the Global Warming Potential (GWP) indicating how significantly it contributes to insulating the Earth from heat loss. CO2 has the standard GWP = 1.
Current atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas CO2 are now high, resulting in the rising temperatures being measured on Earth. The figures shown here indicate this.
When looking at this data it is important to note that the temperature trend has a time lag behind the CO2 trend. It is not visible in Figure 4 because of the huge time scale (800,000 years). Also to note Figure 3 indicates a strong correlation between CO2 levels and temperature but it is statistical and not an exact one-to-one match.
These sets of clear, independent and long-term data show that serious action and response to deal with CO2 and green house gas emissions are required. Increasing biodiverse tree coverage to sequester CO2, whilst also addressing food security issues with agroforestry is one of the many required activities.
It is well established that many human activities emit large volumes of CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere. Hence it is possible to adjust human activity to reduce and compensate for CO2 emissions from human activity. A significant area of human activity that generates CO2 emission involves trees around all parts of the globe. Deforestation and the removal of trees increases the emission of CO2 whilst also reducing the absorption of CO2 which occurs when trees grow building up wood mass by the fundamental process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis basically converts water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into a carbon chain (n CH2) and oxygen (O2). The absorption of CO2 is known as sequestration.
CO2 sequestration by trees
Because trees produce oxygen and sequester CO2 the removal of trees and deforestation increases the problem of CO2 emission. The Neno Macadamia Trust is focusing on building and promoting agroforestry as a way to reverse deforestation and also mitigate CO2 emission damage. Agroforestry is the use of trees to provide food but the trees also sequester (absorb) CO2. NMT specifically promotes and enables macadamia agroforestry in Malawi with the primary benefit being food security, especially for smallholder farmers.
Carbon sequestration through agroforestry is not quite the same as sequestration through general reforestation programs because the trees are in a closer, more direct relationship with those who plant and maintain the trees. The tree itself, its structure and mass of sequestered CO2 require ongoing maintenance because of the food security it provides, rather than simply its sequestered carbon mass.
Important secondary benefits are improving the sustainability of the environment: locally for the soil in particular and globally in terms of CO2 sequestration. It can be described as Climate Smart Macadamia Agroforestry (CSMA).
Carbon offsetting and Carbon Damage Mitigation Certificates
NMT is building a way of funding CSMA in Malawi by providing carbon offsetting for people in developed countries to purchase carbon damage mitigation certificates (CDMC's) that directly support smallholder farmers who are actively planting and sustaining healthy macadamia trees. NMT is working with a UK academic organisation called Profs Who Fly as well as individuals who can purchase CDMC's via the recently developed NMT Carbon Calculator.
Early stages of the work are providing NMT with a small quota of high value CDMC's linked to CO2 sequestering macadamia trees in various parts of Malawi. CDMC's purchased directly fund the smallholder farmers which enables them and the co-operatives which they work within to invest in further macadamia agroforestry within their smallholder communities. This is enabled by the close working relationship between NMT in the UK and HIMACUL (The Highland Macadamia Cooperative Union Limited in Malawi).
CO2 sequestration by macadamia trees
The quality of macadamia tree CO2 sequestration is high because the lifetime and health of the trees are connected to the food security that they provide for the smallholder farmers. NMT is currently selling the carbon offset value at £25 per tonne of CO2 (tCO2). This is close to the higher BEIS price specified by the UK Government compared to lower prices often used for single purpose tree sequestration (see UK Government BEIS updated short-term traded carbon values and Table 1 of the 2018 PDF for further details). NMT uses the higher value partly because the agroforestry improves the security of a sequestering tree through being maintained and fruiting for its full 25 year sequestering lifetime. It will provide food security and local environmental security for the smallholders who invest time and resources into planting the trees and maintaining the health of the trees.
In recent years NMT has started to carry out regular surveys of the trees that are linked to CDMC's to monitor their health and to add further sequestering trees for CDMC availability in future years. This will provide encouragement and financial support for the communities to extend their agroforestry activities.
The mass of CO2 calculated is then allocated to macadamia trees planted by smallholder farmers in Malawi which sequester the CO2. NMT prices the CO2 at £25 / tCO2. The calculator provides full results of tonnes of CO2 emitted as a function of distance flown from an extensive set of international airports, or from vehicle fuel consumption and mileage information.
The purchaser can then buy the uniquely valued CDMC via the calculator. A monthly payment option for an annual specified amount of CO2 can also be purchased.
Malawi has suffered from huge deforestion especially in the last few decades and, as a result, major crises have occurred such as the 2001/2002 food crisis. A major and very important benefit of agroforestry such as with macadamia trees is that it enables the land and soil to recover from deforestation. As soon as a tree is established the benefits include:
Soil protection and conservation:
The root structure of trees physically binds soil which prevents soil erosion, especially during Southern African rainy seasons.
Soil erosion by the wind is also reduced, by the trees sheltering the soil surface.
The macadamia tree root system is especially good at binding soil because it has a very fibrous surface root system as well as a larger deep root system.
Carbon dioxide absorption/sequestration:
Trees absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2.
As they grow the wood stores carbon from atmosphere and they also benficially produce oxygen, O2, during photosynthesis.
This process actively reduces carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere and can mitigate carbon damage caused by CO2 emissions which contributes to global warming and climate change.
Soil surface cooling and water retention:
Trees inherently provide shade which reduces soil surface temperatures, especially in hot regions such as Malawi where exposed soil receives high levels of direct solar radiation.
An immediate consequence of the cooler soil is improved water retention of the soil by redicing evaporation.
This then improves soil quality and with well spaced tree planting enables improved farming of other crops planted amongst trees - known as inter-cropping.
food security & nutrition
Planting macadamia trees for food
The Neno Macadamia Trust works with a cooperative organisation, HIMACUL (The Highland Macadamia Cooperative Union Limited) in Malawi that trains, supplies resources and provides trading centres for smallholder cooperative groups in Malawi to plant and harvest macadamia trees. The macadamia nuts from the trees provide food for the smallholder families. Planting trees for food is known as agroforestry.
Agroforestry is becoming increasingly important because it builds a sustainable environment as well providing food security. It is especially important in countries like Malawi where the traditional staple food crop, maize, weakens soil fertility over time and is increasingly at risk of failing in the more extreme climate conditions that are occurring due to climate change.
Macadamia nuts are very high in oil and high in fibre, minerals, nutrients, and vitamins. This provides needed diversification to a Malawian diet. Crucially, harvest occurs during the 'lean period', pre-maize harvest, when food stocks run low, prices increase and many households go hungry.
income for farmers
Income generation for smallholder farmers
Once smallholder farmers have planted macadamia trees they benefit financially as soon as the trees start bearing fruit by selling portions of the harvested crop. This can happen within 2 to 4 years depending on the conditions and care that young trees are under.
NMT has built a funding mechanism for macadamia smallholder farmers by connecting the trees planted (which absorb CO2) with the CO2 emitted by CDMC purchasers in developed countries.
The funding mechanism combines food security directly with carbon offsetting. This protects the carbon offsetting from becoming green-washing, because the offsetting is only equally important as the actual food production and security that comes from the nut harvest from the CO2 sequestering trees. The smallholders directly benefit from the food security while the CDMC purchaser benefits from the CO2 offset.
Partnership with PWF
The work is done in partnership with Profs Who Fly, based in the UK which enables academics who travel by air regularly to purchase Carbon Damage Mitigation Certificates to offset the carbon emissions of their flights by directly funding the planting of macadamia trees by smallholders in Malawi.
Individual purchasers can also purchase CDMC's using the NMT Carbon Calculator also accessed via the Profs Who Fly site.
The long-term benefits provide carbon offsetting in developed countries which can then finance further smallholder agroforestry in Malawi. The increase of smallholder agroforestry in Malawi will improve the people's resilience to events such as the recent flooding that resulted from the March 2019 Cyclone Idai.
energy production in smallholder context
Although the main activities of NMT are macadamia agroforestry there is some development work being done on sustainable energy production in a smallholder context, since the general use of wood burning for energy is a very significant cause of the current deforestation in Malawi. A combination of agroforestry and wood fuel reduction will be most effective for deforestation recovery.
NMT Trustees have been developing energy producing devices as a means of reducing the requirement for wood fuel for cooking in a smallholder context.
Efficient cook stoves
A cook stove made from simple materials has been designed using a lid and small chimney that enables solid fuel to be burnt with a gasified flame without smoke, efficiently and at a high temperature.
The July and August 2016 news items show the work done at the Home of Hope in West Malawi.
The first one built there using materials and tools brought with the youth group from the U.K. was lit in 5 minutes. A phrase became very popular at the Home of Hope, reflecting the potential of what could be achieved for the benefit of the country:
Malawi Opanda Utsi!
Flame Without Smoke!
Further work for building a reliable and permanent cooking setup for the Home of Hope is required.
Macadamia shells have been very successfully used and tested as an alternative solid fuel. Measurements in the U.K. showed that 800 g of macadamia shell could burn for over 1 hour at a heating rate of 0.5 kW (heating 8 litres of water to over 60°C).
The stove burns the fuel from the top down, leaving charcoal/biochar in the can as an extremely useful by-product.
Materials brought in the August 2016 trip (reflective foil, chipboard forms and hardboard) were assembled to demonstrate that water can be boiled using the typical Malawian sunlight.
Water has been boiled in the vertically aligned pipe in Malawi and in 1 litre and 2 litres in solar trough kettle designs in the U.K. and early versions in Malawi.
Biochar and macadamia shell
The by-product macadamia shell from macadamia agroforestry can be used as a solid fuel in a suitable cookstove to produce very high quality biochar.
The uses of biochar are very extensive including significant enhancement of soil, especially where intensive farming occurs and where soil quality and fertility may have been reduced over many years of farming. Smallholder macadamia agroforestry and its by-products can therefore be very beneficial for soil enhancement as well as provision of a nutritious food.
NMT have been investigating cookstove design and use for biochar production and soil enhancement. Having seen a working cookstove design from Costa Rica NMT has been investigating the building and use of such a cookstove in a smallholder context in Malawi.
Keep up-to-date with how we are working to build food security in Malawi