Agricultural production and productivity remain low affecting domestic demand and export opportunities largely due to weak delivery of agricultural extension services, Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa has said.
“Weak agricultural extension services delivery is due to, among other factors, high farmer and extension staff ratio and ineffective coordination,” he said at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on Friday, February 14, 2020 when he presided over the official opening of this year’s Kutukula Ulimi m’Malawi (KULIMA) BETTER National Learning Event whose theme is “Finding local solutions to sustainable agricultural production, diversification and climate change through Farmer Field Schools”.
KULIMA is a programme designed to promote farming in Malawi. The overall objective of this programme is to promote sustainable agricultural growth to increase incomes, employment and food security in Malawi in the context of changing climate.
“The inadequacy of extension service delivery has affected progress on dissemination and adoption of recommended farming technologies by farmers.
“Other factors affecting agriculture production include climate change, declining soil fertility and forest resources and increasing prevalence of pests and diseases, including the emergence of the Fall Armyworm,” said Nankhumwa.
The minister said government developed the National Agriculture Policy (NAP) and the National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP) as a sector framework for achieving the national agriculture goals.
“Implementation of the NAP and NAIP contributes to the attainment of the goals and objectives of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III), which is our mid-term national development strategy for period 2017 – 2022. Malawi is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Program (CAADP) – Malabo Declaration.
Implementation of the various policies and strategies within the sector are also aimed at achieving these international and continental commitments,” said Nankhumwa.
He added that one of the key programmes being implemented under NAIP aimed at addressing some of the challenges facing the sector, is the KULIMA Programme being funded by the European Union (EU) to the tune of 111 million Euros through a Financing Agreement that was signed between the Government of Malawi and the EU in 2017.
Nankhumwa said KULIMA is being implemented in 10 districts, its main objective being to contribute to increased growth, and an expanded commercial agriculture base while also tackling the long-term aspects related to improved food and nutrition security.
“The KULIMA BETTER project is part of the KULIMA programme and being implemented by a consortium of five local and international organizations led by Self Help Africa Malawi and also includes Evangelical Association of Malawi; Plan International Malawi; ActionAid Malawi and Adventist Relief and Development Agency. The overall objective of KULIMA BETTER project is to ‘increase resilience, food, and nutrition and income security of 402,000 smallholder farmers in the 10 KULIMA districts,” he explained.
Nankhumwa, who is also Leader of Government Business in Parliament, said community, district and national learning events are conducted in order to ensure that the lessons drawn from the Farmer Field School studies are shared widely.
Nankhumwa said he was impressed by what the farmers had documented and showcased at the national learning event under the KULIMA BETTER Project.
“The studies will go a long way in influencing other farmers to adopt the best practices. It is worth noting that farmers are making efforts in controlling Fall Armyworm using locally available methods like the botanicals, which are safe and cost effective.
“I would also like to urge farmers that after sharing the results of your studies, you should continue to practice what you have showcased as that would lead to sustainable agriculture. Government places great emphasis on increasing adoption of agricultural technologies,” said the minister.
Other high-profile officials at the event included Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Grey Nyandule Phiri, Irish Ambassador, Gerry Cunningham, Country Director for Self Help Africa, Ulemu Chiluzi and KULIMA Programme Coordinator, Dr. Chisomo Kumbuyo.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :