The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Zomba Diocese says smallholder farmers in Malawi have the right to demand services from agricultural extension workers if they want to boost their crop and livestock production.
CCJP coordinatorÂ in the diocese Joseph Nthondo was speaking on Monday during a sensitisation meeting for farmers from Traditional AuthorityÂ (T/A)Â Chikowi, sub-T/As Ngwelero and Mâ€™biza in the district on the demand-driven policy in the Ministry of Agriculture held at Mayaka Parish Hall in the district.
Said Nthondo: â€œIn the first place, smallholder farmers or communities in general did not know that there is a policy on paper called demand-driven in the Ministry of Agriculture which requires them and the agricultural extension workers to effectively work together and boost agricultural production in their respective areas.
â€œThis led to most of the agricultural committees in their areas being dormant because good farming practices were not well coordinated [and] as a result, their crop and livestock production dwindled.â€
He said structures such as the area stakeholdersâ€™ panel will assist in getting views from the smallholder farmers to be forwarded to responsible authorities for action.
Ngwelero Extension Development Area (EPA) acting agricultural extension development coordinator Alice Mbayani said the top-to-bottom approach which was being followed led to farmers not getting what they required in their agricultural activities.
Participants to the meeting included faith leaders, area development committee (ADC) members and health and agricultural workers, among others.