The Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) is sending emerging commercial farmers to the Zambia Agricultural Exhibition which has been designed using the European model of agricultural exhibitions.
The agricultural exhibitions dubbed Agritech Expo will take place from 4 to 5 April at the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (Gart) research centre in Chisamba and will bring together some of the world’s leading agricultural exhibitors .
FUM director of policy and institutions Jacob Nyirongo said they want to expose emerging commercial farmers to new technologies such as irrigation.
The farmers’ organisation also wants to help to increase output while decreasing inputs, evaluating soil quality and soil maps, general plant propagation and production, conservation farming and how to identify common symptoms and administer treatments to livestock.
Nyirongo said the farmers that were selected are all of Malawian origin and those that are fully established but are emerging and have enough land which will require the use of new improved equipment as part of mechanising agriculture.
Apart from that, the farmers are also those that are growing food crops including groundnuts, soya, maize and beans.
“These farmers are going to learn a lot in Zambia because Zambia is practising what I can call inclusive agriculture. They are not just focusing on smallholder farmers like what we are doing here.
“We have put much of our emphasis on Farm Input Subsidy Programme [Fisp] and we hope that one day we will take the approach that Zambia is taking,” he said.
Nyirongo said that some of the greatest challenges facing farmers across Africa is maximising the potential of their arable land so that they can increase crop yields.
“Agritech crop trials will give us first hand opportunity to see the effects and benefits of fertiliser and pesticides produced by some of the leading exhibitors from Africa.
“On irrigation, the greatest challenge facing small-scale farmers is the effective water management and the farmers will directly benefit from leading suppliers, including Lindsay, Irritech, Agriplas, Copperbelt Irrigation and Green 2000,” he said.
A statement from the organisers of the Expo says Zambia, as a nation, is on the rise with an economy projected to be one of the 10 fastest growing in the world between now and 2015.
“At the heart of this economic growth is Zambia’s booming agriculture sector, accounting for 35 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) which equates to around $4.5 billion in real money,” reads the statement in part.
Key partners of the Expo include the Zambia National Farmers Union, Musika, a non-profit company that works to stimulate private sector investment in smallholder markets, Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust, and the Usaid’s Southern African Trade Hub.