Senior authorities in the Ministry of Agriculture have touted Agroecology as one of the best farming approaches that can substantially improve Malawi's food security.
Secretary for Agriculture Erica Maganga and Director of Land Resources Gertrude Kambauwa made similar sentiments during the Malawi Agro-ecological intensification symposium which ended last Friday in Lilongwe.
The remarks were backed by senior scientists and researches in the department of crop and soil science at the Lilongwe University of Science and Technology (LUANAR) where the Agro-ecological intensification Hub (AEI) is hosted.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines agroecology as an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems.
While emphasising that sustaining Malawi’s food systems needs agro-ecologically sound approaches, Maganga said at present her ministry is devising means of ensuring that agroecology issues are streamlined in relevant policies.
She added the concept can potentially absorb some climatic shocks being experienced by most farmers.
Maganga said: “In recent years, significant weather shocks and land degradation have had detrimental effects on agricultural output and food security.” Maganga also admitted that there are other elements of agroecology that have been less recognised and have not been promoted by the ministry of agriculture.
"Many times we have been promoting elements of agroecology without strategies or structures," she said.
"Many times we have been promoting elements of agroecology without strategies or structures" - Maganga
Regardless, Maganga highlighted some of the Agro-ecological elements which have been part of their agenda and include: encouraging crop diversification, recycling of resources (through composting, use of green or animal manure) and improving efficiency (e.g. with labour, water use, fertilizer).
Coordinator for the Agro-ecological Intensification (AIE) Hub Vernon Kabambe said by adopting agroecology the country will optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system.
He said agroecology is very wide, such that without careful and purposeful advocacy, certain elements could be overlooked. " A holistic approach is important for increased productivity while preventing or reversing environmental degradation and uplifting the livelihoods of all our farmers," he said.
The theme for the workshop was the "The role of Agro-ecological Sensitive Agriculture in Building Resilient and Sustainable Food Systems."
McKnight Foundation, based in the United States Of America is providing financial support to the Malawi Agro-Ecological Intensification Hub to be facilitating networking of researchers in legumes, soils and farmer participation.