The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) with funding from the Norwegian Government is investing K3.1 billion in the agriculture value chains targeting small-scale farmers to venture into high value agricultural production.
Through the implementation of the Sustainable Food Systems for Rural Resilience and Transformation (Transform) programme, targeted farmers will be receiving high quality seeds such as legumes, vegetables, spices, high value dense maize including livestock.
The Transform programme which started in July this year, is a four-year programme signed with the Norwegian Church Aid in partnership with the Development Fund of Norway and University of Life Sciences in Norway.
About 180 000 targeted farming household beneficiaries from five districts are set to benefit from start-up investment into the production of irrigated high value crops aimed at economic empowerment and poverty alleviation.
The farmers will be drawn from Extension Planning Areas designated in Mchinji, Dowa, Kasungu, Rumphi and Mzimba, respectively.
AICC head of programmes Diana Lwanda said in an interview after visiting some beneficiaries on Wednesday that the project will also link the farmers to lucrative markets to ensure whatever they produce is sold to earn value for money.
Apart from the economic empowerment, she said the project also intends to enhance food security and nutrition needs.
It is expected that the project will contribute to sustainable livelihoods by empowering rural citizens to be independent and stop the spirit of relying on handouts.
Lwanda said: “The project has a research component as one of the first outcomes for research institutions to test models for agriculture transformation, to test technologies that would likely help to improve production for targeted value chains.
“A part of the programme is looking at production and productivity of targeted value chains and the other aspect is looking at when the farmer has produced should have access to lucrative markets as well as micro-processing what has been produced”.
Through the programme she said AICC will tackle social inclusion and integration for youth, people living with HIV, people with disabilities and ensure having conducive policy environment to provide better platform for farmers.
The programme will have lead farmers who will be testing the technologies from research outcomes through field demonstrations, before farmers can fully adopt the crop technologies.
Chairperson of the Kachuwa Farmers Club Gladys Majoni from Undi Village, Traditional Authority Dzoole in Lilongwe said they are already hoping to reap benefits from the drip irrigation technology facilitated by AICC.
She said from small plots of land, which they have planted high value horticultural crops, they are expecting to earn about K500 000.
She said drip irrigation technology is rewarding noting that group members are able to be doing other tasks while the water bucket drips water into specific plant stations.
“The drip irrigation technology introduced to us through this programme is cost effective, we just leave the jerrycans to irrigate the plots while we concentrate on other economic developments,” she said.
The grouping planted high value tomatoes using drip irrigation as pilot lead farmers before the technology is replicated in their village.