Just Trading Scotland (JTS), a Scotland organization that imports products from Southern Africa, has hailed Malawi’s smallholder farmer associations, saying they have potential to improve people’s economic standards if properly assisted to maximize product quality.
JTS chairperson John Riches made the remarks during a visit to Kaporo Smallholder Farmers Association (Kasfa) in Karonga to appreciate how the farmers’ access low-cost technological machinery and irrigation.
Riches said JTS partnered with Kasfa in 2009 under the Scotland-Malawi Partnership and has since supported Kasfa with seed multiplication to discourage the culture of seed recycling to achieve quality rice production.
“Kasfa received a grant of about £300 000 [about K300 million] in 2014 to help them buy five metric tonnes [MT]of kilombero seed at Lifuwu Research Station in Salima District which was then distributed to 5 000 members to grow as certified seed.
“Today, the multiplied seed has proven much more productive than the recycled seed which farmers had been using, thereby improving on quality and increased yield by 40 percent,” Riches said.
He said smallholders farmers constitute about 75 percent of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and there is need to introduce technologies to enable them maximise yields.
JTS’ Stephen Hayes said the organisation has also supported the drilling of 20 shallow wells in Kaporo to enable farmers irrigate fields in times of dry spell.
In his remarks, Kasfa vice-chairperson Howard Msukwa said JTS also supported the farmers to procure 50 ox-carts.
He said the ox-cats have so far assisted 253 farmers through extended micro-credit, a development that has solved rice transportation problems during harvest.