The Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) says agriculture could become Malawi’s key avenue to poverty reduction and food security only if research, science and technology are adopted in the sector.
Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, Cisanet’s board chair Rex Chapota said advances in science and technology that have taken place worldwide offer Malawi more opportunities and new and better tools needed to promote its agriculture productivity.
Chapota further emphasised that Malawi can create new or improve existing institutional arrangements that can help the uptake of the existing technologies to increase productivity.
“Our prosperity as a country will depend on agriculture for many years to come. This, therefore, calls for significant efforts to modernise our agriculture through the application of science and technology,” he said.
He further disclosed that Cisanet would hold its annual general conference on 29 and 30 July 2015, which will look substantively at how innovation systems can be developed to ensure agriculture transformation in Malawi.
He highlighted that “the other major milestone of this conference would be the conceptualisation of a Malawi agriculture sector vision that Cisanet would like to pursue in its policy advocacy work and will ensure that this vision finds its way into national policies and sub-sectoral policies dealing with food security agriculture development in Malawi”.
Chapota believes that the first step towards achieving the dream of having an agricultural sector that is technologically driven is to have a strong political will—a willing and inspiring political leadership that provides space for new ideas and space for technocrats to execute policies.
“This will require a change of priorities, for instance, the substantial investment we have done in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) over the years has mainly been geared at putting food on the table without much regard to market development and value addition,” Chapota said.
Cisanet is a group of civil society organisations (CSOs) that was established in 2001 to facilitate the engagement of the CSOs working in the agriculture sector over policy issues affecting the sector, especially smallholder famers.
Currently, Cisanet has a membership (including affiliates) of 104 comprising local and international non-governmental organisations, farmer organisations and interested individuals.