Twenty two farmers from Malawi were last week in Zambia for a five-day study tour where they engaged various farmer groups and other value chain players. The team, which arrived back on Friday, comprised district farmers union (DFU) leaders from the country’s 22 districts.
The Malawi delegation, led by officials from Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), was amazed and challenged with progress made by their counterparts in the predominantly farming districts of Chadiza and Petauke in the Eastern Region of Zambia.
The trip was funded by United States Agency for International Development (USaid) under the Malawi Agriculture Policy Strengthening Project (Maps).
Speaking to Petauke District Farmers Association (DFA) executive members under the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), FUM director of research, policy and partnerships Candida Nakhumwa appreciated the vast experience of ZNFU, which has been in existence for more than 110 years, and recent successes in the Zambian agricultural sector.
She said it was appropriate for Malawian farmers to learn from their neighbours.
Nakhumwa it was also necessary for Malawian farmers to learn governance structures of DFAs under ZNFU, their engagement in policy dialogue and advocacy and their efforts towards financial sustainability such as their active engagement in value addition and agro-processing.
She was pleased to note that farmer associations have a cordial and strong working relationship with government structures even at district level which facilitates farmers’ input in evidence-based agriculture policy formulation.
FUM president Alfred Kapichira Banda described the visit as important and an eye opener.
He encouraged fellow farmers on the trip to learn from Zambia how they can strengthen their respective associations at district level in Malawi.
“If you want to teach someone how to swim, you take that person to the deeper waters and that is why we are here to learn swimming but in a farming style,” said Kachapira Banda, attracting laughter from farmers.
The Malawian team also learnt how the various district farmers associations in Zambia are providing relevant services to their members, income generating activities, farm mechanisation and various agro-processing activities.
They also learnt how they can strengthen their study circle concept-a strategy of facilitating deeper learning of specialised enterprises through small interest groups among farmers. n