Delegates outline strategies for agricultural diversification, growth

Delegates outline strategies for agricultural diversification, growth

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have urged the government to use modern research and transfer technologies to small-holder farmers to complement its efforts to grow and diversify the agricultural sector.

The recommendations were made at the 10th Eminent Speakers Series held at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on Thursday. The National Planning Commission (NPC) hosted the event alongside its partners the Mwapata Institute and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar).

Munthali: Implement the interventions

Speaking at the summit, Leadership for Environment and Development in Southern and Eastern Africa regional director Professor Sosten Chiotha urged the government to streamline natural resource management in national agricultural development programmes.

He said: “Our agricultural system is [inexorably] linked to natural resources. As such, when the government is developing these agricultural development initiatives, it should also consider how the country will effectively manage its land and water resources. We cannot have agriculture without water or land.”

In her contribution during the panel discussion, local farmer and Luanar alumni Temwani Gunda urged the government to leverage the research conducted in the country to inform the development of agricultural technologies and facilitate their transfer to farmers at the grassroots.

She said: “The research [and technology development] should focus on how best we can improve the conditions for the farmer. When the technology is developed, the farmers should be trained on how they are going to use the technology. If they are not trained, they will not know how to use it.”

On his part, director in the Department of Agriculture and Extension in the Ministry of Agriculture, Pearson Soko, expressed optimism that the national initiatives the government has put in place such as the mega farms project will put Malawi on the right track to revamp the agriculture sector.

But NPC director general Thomas Chataghalala Munthali said the projects will not take off if policy holders and duty-bearers are not held accountable for failing to “implement the interventions that were already proposed to promote national development”.

The Malawi 2063, the country’s long-term development startegy, lists agricultural commercialisation and productivity as one of the main pillars in the country’s drive to spur economic development and transition toa middle-income country by 2030.

The Eminent Speaker series are held to identify bottlenecks and structural challenges that undermine the implementation of the Malawi 2063 and other government development strategies and policies.

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