The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has pledged to support the farmer-to-farmer programme for its role in complementing government’s efforts in empowering farmers 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 American volunteers provide technical assistance to local farmers, farmer groups, agri-businesses and other agriculture sector institutions.
The project, which is now in its third phase, is implemented in the country by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) Malawi in three value chains including horticulture, legumes and aquaculture.
The three were selected for their potential to benefit a large number of farmers and for them to earn high returns compared to other crops such as cereals.
Ching’onda-Nkhoma noted that the farmer-to-farmer 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.
CNFA Malawi country director Rodrick Chirambo said in an interview that about 11 000 will benefit from the programme over the five-year implementation period, with a total of $1 112 000 (about K822 million) to be made in sales.
He also noted that the farmer-to-farmer efforts will help to increase the quantity and quality of produce by introducing 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.
“Its 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 in Lilongwe, who benefited from the previous farmer-to-farmer programmes attested to the significance of the programme.
“The fact that the volunteers are also farmers means that they provide the right technical advice in accordance to the local farmers’ needs and challenges,” she said.