Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has pledged to support farmer-to-farmer programmes, saying they complement government’s efforts to increase productivity.
The ministry’s director of agriculture extension services Jerome Ching’onda-Nkhoma said this at the launch of the farmer-to-farmer programme under which qualified American volunteers provide technical assistance to local farmers, farmer groups, agri-businesses and other agriculture sector institutions.
He said the programme directly supports elements of the National Agriculture Investment Plan (Naip), the investment framework for the agricultural sector covering five years to 2023.
“The Naip is the main implementation vehicle for the National Agriculture Policy and it provides a framework to coordinate and prioritise investments by various government agencies, development partners and non-State actors in the sector.
“That is why we appreciate the complementary efforts and resources from our development partners,” he said.
Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) Malawi country director Rodrick Chirambo said in an interview about 11 000 farmer will benefit from the programme over the five-year implementation period, with a total of $1.1 million (about K822 million) to be made in sales.
He said the programme seeks to increase the quantity and quality of produce through the introduction of production and processing technologies by farmers and their organisations and agribusinesses.
“The programme also focuses on building business management capacity for individuals and institutions working in the agriculture sector.
“The programme interventions are expected to catalyse the development of commercially-viable and sustainable business units along the three focal value chains,” he said.
On her part, Ngabaghila Chatata, managing director of Thanthwe Enterprises, who has benefited from the previous farmer-to-farmer programmes, attested to the fruits of the programme as the volunteers are farmers just like them and they provide the right technical advice in accordance to the local farmers’ needs and challenges.
The project, which is now in its third phase, is implemented in the country by CNFA Malawi in three value chains, including horticulture, legumes and aquaculture, chosen for their potential to benefit a large number of farmers and earn high returns compared to other crops such as cereals.