Skip to main content Skip to navigation

WSU Sustainable Resource Development Project in Malawi to Continue with Altria Group Funding

PULLMAN, Wash.—A five-year Washington State University project to improve the livelihoods of and sustain natural resources for farmers in rural Malawi will continue with a $250,000 contribution from the Altria Group of Richmond, Va.

A Malawi woman uses a treadle pump for small-scale irrigation. Click image for a high-resolution version.

The Sustainable Rural Enterprises and Livelihoods (SURELIVES) project began in July 2006 through a partnership with WSU International Research and Development and nonprofit Total LandCare. SURELIVES helps Malawian farm households transition from subsistence agriculture to market-based, self-sufficient farming.

The southeastern African state faces many challenges, including deforestation, frequent food shortages, environmental degradation, limited access to inputs, credit and capital, acute shortages of energy and safe water, poor knowledge and skills to adopt productivity-enhancing technologies, weak extension services and lack of market information.

The project seeks to increase production and income of small-scale farmers through improved agricultural practices with sustained conservation and management of the area’s natural resource base. Since its start, SURELIVES has served almost 555 villages and more than 25,000 households in this impoverished region of Malawi.

“This has been a true partnership with the Altria Group and Total LandCare where we have been able to enhance the lives of so many Malawians through sustainable resource development and enterprise activities,” said Chris Pannkuk, WSU IRD director.

The project has accomplished the following over the last five years:

  • Some 2,900 tree nurseries were built, raising just over 9 million tree seedlings. In all, 8.8 million trees were planted.
  • More than 300 hectares of land are in conservation agriculture programs to promote sustainable cropping practices.
  • About 740 treadle pumps were distributed for small-scale irrigation. In addition, 60 shallow wells with hand pumps were installed to provide safe water and improve sanitation, affecting more than 4,500 households.
  • Nearly 4,000 households are using energy-saving woodstoves to reduce wood consumption.

TLC was founded in 2000 by WSU faculty member Trent Bunderson and Malawian agricultural scientist Zwide Jere and today operates not only in Malawi but also in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

One of the world’s largest tobacco corporations, the Altria Group is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, John Middleton Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., Philip Morris Capital Corp. and Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

For more information about the SURELIVES project, visit For details about the Altria Group, visit


Media Contacts