By Wilfred Golden
As part of bulding sustainable communities in the country, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has embarked on a project which aims at improving livelihoods of vulnerable households through market oriented agriculture.
Japanese Ambassordor to Malawi Yoichi Oya said the project is expected to improve the livelihoods of several people most especially farmers in various areas, and has called on farmers in the country to embrace morden farming in order to increase production which at the end improves their livelihoods.
He has also saluted UNDP for working hand in hand with the Ministry of Agriculture up to this far.
He was speaking this at Bvumbwe Research station in Thyolo where he toured training for extention workers in horticulture farming in order to appreciate the progress.
“I appreciate the efforts and commitment of the Department of Agriculture Extension Services (DAES) staff and extension workers. I heard that the Training of Trainers (ToT) is progressing well.
“This collaboration with UNDP and the Ministry of Agriculture will complete the Training of Trainers (ToT) for all extention workers in all districts of Malawi, this is truly a synergy of cooperation between Japan, Malawi and UNDP,” he said.
On her part, UNDP representative to Malawi Fenella Frost said the project has a huge capacity of providing farmers opportunities to access bigger markets.
“We know that Agriculture is the back borne of Malawian economy and that it is very essential that we help poor and vulnerable communities to gain more money and eventually be able to get profits. We know it was a very hard year for farmers in Malawi we had Cyclones there were huge damages in most parts of the country and I think with these tranings for extention workers in many parts of the country is realy very important as they will learn how to improve crop production and how farmers can talker some day to day challenges they face,”she highlited.
She added that this is not only a priority project as it is to be implemeted for only one year but the goverments of Japan and Malawi are taking this to be as long time initiative.
Kenneth Chaula, deputy director in the department of agriculture extension services said imparting extension workers with more knowledge will create an advantage for smallholders to apply modern farming technologies.
“The approach will cover production, farm management aspects and also marketing aspects but within that we also promote gender mainstreaming to ensure that there is equitable distribution of benefits among the participants. So in this project we are targeting crops that are in holticulture family where we feel where we feel that farmers can make money in a given period of time,” Chaula said.
The project which is dubbed “Promoting Peace and Social- Economic Empowerent through National Peace Agriculture and Sustainable Livelihoods’ is building capacity of 384 field staffs which among them 277 are males and 107 are females and 6,438 farmers in farming groups which among them 2,868 are males and 3,570 are females have benefited in 24 district of Malawi.