Posts Tagged ‘Kristof Nordin’


USAID to Use Permaculture to Assist Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

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By Stephanie Buglione

Nearly one quarter of children in the developing world are underweight, and one third are experiencing stunted growth, according to a UNICEF report. In addition, many of these children have a family member, or are themselves, afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

Jacob, a student in Malawi, explaining permaculture to other boys. (Photo credit:

According to the Joint U.N Programme on HIV/AIDS, worldwide, 16.6 million children aged 0 to 17 have lost parents due to HIV. Families afflicted with HIV have less help harvesting and planting crops or selling them at the market. Additionally, when a parent dies prematurely, their children are denied their generational agricultural knowledge and skills. But this missing information, and other lessons on ethics, patience, and responsibility, can be taught in schools through the use of permaculture.

A new USAID project, Permaculture Design for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, is focused on providing long-term food security solutions to orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) that are coping with the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Permaculture is their means to achieving this food security.

Kristof Nordin is one of the co-authors of this initiative. He and his wife, Stacia, a registered dietician and previous School Health and Nutrition Advisor for the Malawi Ministry of Education, live in a home outside of Lilongwe, Malawi. On their land, they have been demonstrating permaculture practices for several years to help educate the community about indigenous vegetables and to reduce the cultural fixation on monocropping.



Video Spotlight of the Week

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Each week Nourishing the Planet features a video to give you the inside scoop on the different projects we see on the ground that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty. We showcase past favorites and some brand new videos you’ve never seen.  Check out Nourishing the Planet’s Youtube channel to see more.

To celebrate the new year we are sharing the very first video we posted in January of 2010, featuring an interview with Kristof Nordin at his permaculture garden in Malawi.


Snapshots from the Field

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Each week the Nourishing the Planet team picks out some of our favorite photos  from the environmentally sustainable agriculture projects we’re visiting in sub-Saharan Africa.

photo credit: Bernard Pollack

This week’s photo features an image of permaculture, a holistic agriculture system that mimics relationships found in nature.  It was taken during our visit to Stacia and Kristof Nordin’s house in Malawi, which is used as an educational outdoor classroom to help farmers and their neighbors learn about the importance of permaculture and growing indigenous vegetables for the health of people and the ecosystem of Malawi.


Video Spotlight of the Week

Pin It

Each week Nourishing the Planet features a video to give you the inside scoop on the different projects we see on the ground that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty. We showcase past favorites and some brand new videos you’ve never seen.  Check out Nourishing the Planet’s Youtube channel to see more.

In this week’s video we hear from Kristof Nordin, who runs a permaculture project in Malawi with his wife Stacia. They have been working in Malawi to help educate farmers that “tidy” yards and gardens aren’t necessarily better for producing food or the environment. Everything from the garden beds to the edible fish pond to the composting toilet has an important role on their property and the amount of biodiversity they produce is impressive.


NtP in The Nation

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Check out Nourishing the Planet’s newest op-ed published today in Malawi’s The Nation. The article highlights our visit with Kristof and Stacia Nordin, who use their home and garden in Malawi to educate local farmers on both permaculture and biodiversity. Growing a variety of indigenous vegetables in sub-Saharan Africa is crucial to improving food security.

To read more about the Nordins see: Sweeping Change, Improving Livelihoods and Nutrition with Permaculture, and Homegrown Solutions to Alleviating Hunger and Poverty


Part 41: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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Each day we run three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

Photo credit: Bernard Pollack

1. Xavier Rakotonjanahary, National Center for Rural Development, Madagascar says:

“There are many ways where more funding could address agricultural development. However, priorities should be understood by donors and agreed between different groups of stakeholders. First is that people in the rural area should be aware of new technologies, have access to them, and apply or scale up them, as part of of education, communication and technology transfer. The second priority is building rural infrastructure which is very essential to facilitate the dissemination of technologies and market accessibility. And third is the system of fund allocation; it could be through farmer organisations working with a private company but the most important objective should be a fair price to small scale farmers, who represent the majority of population in developing countries. Thus, depending on the situation,  the technology is ready made, transferred or scaled-up, the funding could be directed to technology dissemination, infrastructure building or to fair price issues.”

2. Tobias Leenaert EVA, Belgium says:

“I would obviously welcome more funding for research into plant-based alternatives to animal products, and what potential they have for locally solving famine and nutritional problems (see e.g. your post about those African beans). I believe a lot can be gained by studying the traditionally present vegetarian staple products, check how they can be completed (if necessary) without animal animal products, investigate the best ways to cultivate them etc. All this given, of course, my idea that plant-based nutrition is to be preferred, generally speaking, above animal-based nutrition because of sustainability, health and compassion.”

3.  Kristof Nordin, Malawi says:

As straightforward as this question seems, it is very complicated to answer.  Historically, agricultural “funding” can often be found at the root of many unsustainable practices that have grown out of our current approach to high-input, industrialized, and chemically-dependent food production. Countries such as Malawi, in the name of ‘agricultural progress and development’, have spent millions on research, breeding, and adaptation of a foreign crop—maize—to comply with local growing conditions.  All the while, ignoring hundreds of indigenous crops that have naturally adapted themselves over thousands of years, which are often drought resistant, pest resistant, highly nutritious, open-pollinated, and FREE! Many well-intentioned projects often fail primarily due to ‘agricultural funding’.  One need only look to the “donation graveyards” scattered throughout the landscape of developing countries; wherein lie the decaying corpses of unusable industrial farm implements, broken down tractors, and inoperable machinery.   At the same time we have innumerable households who have neglected to pick up a simple watering can and establish a kitchen garden.

We need to start asking some hard questions:  Should we be spending millions of dollars on complex agricultural irrigation projects when millions of people have yet failed to even place a simple clay pot under the eaves of their roof or reuse their grey water?   Should we be jumping so quickly to the costly genetic altering of the nutritional structure of foods before people have succeeded in, or understood the importance of growing and eating a balanced diet?  Should we allow the continued funding of high-input industrialized agricultural initiatives that often spiral local farmers into ever-growing debt, dependency, environmental destruction, and food insecurity?

There seems to be a groundswell in the number of projects and initiatives throughout the world that are implementing new, innovative, and sustainable solutions.  Some of these approaches have been highlighted on the Nourishing the Planet’s blog, while others remain relatively isolated and unknown.  “Agricultural funding” can no longer squander its resources on ‘cookie-cutter’ approaches.  It needs to be applied towards systems that foster creative and unique thinking skills, a true understanding of natural systems, the utilization of local resources under the tutelage of indigenous knowledge, as well as design systems that reunite agriculture with a community’s needs: food and nutrition security, energy efficiency, renewable fuel sources, natural building supplies, local medicines, fibers, economics, labor, and more.  Often times, these are the approaches that take no funding at all.”

To read more responses see:

Part 36: Robert Goodland (USA), Yao M. Afantchao (USA), and Queresh Noordin
Part 37: Richard Twine (UK), Yiching Song, and Abdelmunem Ahmed (Palestine)
Part 38: Bruce Murphy (Australia), Richard (South Africa), and Paul Van Mele (Benin)
Part 39: NM Nayar (India), Abe Agulto (Philippines), Paul Yao Kpai (Ghana)
Part 40: Sophia Murphy, Roland Sundström, Jones Lemchi

What is your answer? Email me at or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg