Neno, Malawi 09th November, 2022 (AEJ) – The Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project (MWASIP) in partnership with four district councils namely; Blantyre, Machinga, Neno and Zomba has been conducting graduation ceremonies of Farmer Field School (FFS) farmers in conservation and climate smart agriculture as part of building long-term resilience to devastating effects of climate change.
MWASIP is a 6-year World Bank Group supported project whose objective is to increase the adoption of sustainable landscape management and improve watershed services in selected agro-ecosystems countrywide.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony of one of the FFS in Neno district, Ministry of Agriculture Principal Training Officer, Boniface Kautale explained that most households find themselves in a situation of food insecure and hidden hunger accelerated by land degradation. This situation requires them to be exposed and capacitated with knowledge on conservation agriculture to ensure sustained food and nutritional security.
Kautale retaliated on a need for farmers to actively engage in conservation and climate smart agriculture as a way of addressing the challenges brought about by damning effects of climate change.
One of the training beneficiaries, a member from Asumi FFS in Neno district, Marvis Chaipa applauded MWASIP for empowering farmers to grow resilient crops and identify agriculture gaps which are key to sustaining families food and nutritional security even in times of droughts and dry spells.
"Through this school, I have learnt how to make contour ridges, plant trees around my farm, and how to mix local materials to come up with village generated organic manure. I will make sure that we continue practicing such kind of innovation to improve soil fertility," an excited Chaipa said adding that she looks forward towards implementing what she had learnt through the training offered by MWASIP.
According to Chaipa Asumi FFS will remain intact as a hub of information sharing among farmers. The farmer to farmer innovation and technology sharing was also emphasised by Programme Manager of Blantyre Agriculture Development Division Patricia Mayuni.
"The principle of farmer school is to create an enabling environment for farmers to easily adopt practical skills from fellow farmers, other than from extension worker. More importantly we are also encouraging farmers to doing small scale livestock husbandry so that in the event of crop failure they can sale their goats or pigs and buy food," advised Mayuni during the event held at Gulugufu Village under Kunthembwe Extension Planning Area.
Neno district council chairperson, councillor Mark Ngwangwa of Lisungwi ward thanked MWASIP for the support and encouraged farmers to use and share skills learnt to the best of their abilities.
He noted that if farmers utilize the skills acquired, they will be able to grow more crops and practice diversification amidst natural disasters that affect crop productivity and production in the district.
"If they practice what they have been taught, I am sure issues of hunger after being hit by natural disasters will be a thing of the past. I advise them to surely take advantage of this project and the knowledge acquired," advised Ngwangwa on the sidelines of the event.
So far four graduation ceremonies have since been carried out, Ntcheu district will be having graduation ceremonies today, 9th November, and tomorrow, 10th November, 2022. MWASIP expects to graduate 1,249 farmers with conservation and climate smart agriculture to ensure livelihoods resilience to climate related shocks.
Additional reporting by Charles Mkoka in Lilongwe