German boosts Malawi government, Nasfam response to Covid-19 fight

German has partnered with National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam)) and the Malawi Government in its efforts to strengthen prevention, early diagnosis and containment of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among smallholder subsistence farmers in Malawi.

Chinyamunyamu (left) interacting with German Ambassador Jurgen Borsch at Lilongwe South Innovation and Productivity Centre at Nathenje in Lilongwe–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
Borsch (centre) makes a symbolic presentation of buckets and hand sanitizers to Chinyamunyamu in response to COVID-19 pandemic–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

Nasfam has a membership of over 100, 000 of smallholder farmers spread across 22 districts of Malawi.

Speaking in an interview with Nyasa Times, the German Ambassador to Malawi, Jurgen Borsch, said his embassy values the contribution Nasfam makes to improve the social and economic livelihood of smallholder farmers in Malawi.

Borsch said it is against this background that the German Government has chosen Nasfamto be a strategic partner in the COVID-19 response since his government, through its Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), also provides to Malawian farmers, cooperatives and companies.

“Subsistence farmers are the backbone of the agricultural economy; hence, the need to put in measures that can enable them prevent and protect themselves from the pandemic. And in this specific time, what we are trying to do is part of our quick response to a challenging situation; we want to send out the signal that we’ll keep supporting the smallholder farmers through Nasfam,” said the envoy.

On Friday, Borsch handed over personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam).

Borsch disclosed that his government has released US$2.5 million (approximately K1.9 billion) to support the Malawi Government and other partners in their efforts to strengthen prevention, early diagnosis and containment of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

He also announced the provision of an additional €600,000 (approximately K500 million package, which will go towards the ongoing Malawi German Health Programme being implemented by GIZ.

Borsch said there is also an additional funding, which will go towards supporting Lilongwe, Dedza, Mchinji and Ntcheu to strengthen public awareness, training of health workers, on COVID-19, screening, contact tracing, surveillance and infection prevention.

“I’m happy that in addition to the refurbishment of the isolation unit at Kamuzu Central Hospital last week we can now also distribute urgently needed supplies at the district level. As German Development Cooperation, we do as much as we can to support our partners during these difficult times,” he said.

Nasfam chief executive officer, Dr. Betty Chinyamunyamu, said equipping smallholder farmers with PPEs is critically important, especially this time when they are preparing to take their harvest to the open markets for sale.

Chinyamunyamu said open markets have the potential to expose farmers to the virus.

“We are particularly pleased that this support has come at a time when we didn’t anticipate that we would face this challenge. So, it was something that we never planned for. So, to get this support at this time is something that is going to better our needs and has given us confidence that we’ll be able to operate normally during the marketing season,” she said.

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