CAT-Bunda smart farms inspire smallholder farmers

Dozens of smallholder farmers last Tuesday converged at CAT-Bunda Smart Farms at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) to learn how use of new and improved crop varieties can enable them beat hunger while at the same time mitigating negative effects of climate change.

The Centre for Agriculture Transformation (CAT) organized the learning visit with financial support from Foundation for Smoke Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative (FSFWATI).

Nakhumwa–More farmers will benefit from these learning visits–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

It drew smallholder farmers from Dowa and Lilongwe districts.

FSFWATI Vice President Dr. Candida Nakhumwa said the learning visit was organized to allow farmers have the opportunity interact with private sector players, particularly crop breeders, to learn skills on how they can maximize production and productivity on their respective farmlands.

“The reason why we are bringing the farmers to Centre for Agriculture Transformation is that we want to demonstrate to them that we have new and improved varieties for different crops, which we produce as a country. For example, you have seen that we are showcasing bananas, different varieties of soya beans, maize and groundnuts to let them know that we have improved varieties that are performing better on the same piece of land,” said Nakhumwa.

Farmers in a banana plot

She expressed commitment that her organization, in partnership with CAT, will be conducting regular learning visits catering for smallholder farmers across the country.

“When farmers come here, they have the opportunity to interact with private sector players that are in different space that are breeding these different varieties. Today, we have brought farmers from Lilongwe and Dowa. And in the course of the month, there will be farmers from different districts in the country coming here to learn. And the idea is: how do we reach out to more people beyond where the centre is?” narrated Nankhumwa.

CAT Chairperson of the Advisory Committee, Dr. Albert Changaya, said his organization is investing a lot in science, technology and innovation to enable its beneficiary farmers tackle the adverse effects of climate change.

Farmers learning how they can plant and care for new and improved soya bean varieties–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

A representative of the farmers, Lloyd Kayimbe of Village Head Mninga in Traditional Authority Chadza in Lilongwe, commended the organizations for learning visit, saying it had equipped them with skills and knowledge they would use to smart out of perennial hunger.

Kayimbe – who is also lead farmer and Area Sector Panel (ASP) chairperson – said he would mobilize his fellow farmers to adopt new farming techniques.

“We are very impressed with what we have seen here. And it is my desire that every farmer should embrace these techniques for us to increase our production and productivity,’ he said.

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