Smallholder farmers in Kasungu and Mzimba South districts are benefiting from the Marketing Capacity Building project being implemented in the two districts by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
The Marketing Capacity Building project is being implemented with funding from the Government of Flanders.
Agriculture Extension Development Officer (AEDO) for Luwerezi EPA, Timothy Banda, one of the Government officers trained as master trainer under the project told Malawi24 that they are implementing activities through the Farmer Field School approach which helps them to reach farmers easily and facilitate transformative group marketing activities.
Banda added that they work with the farmers and build their capacity through the Farmer Field Schools, associations as well as cooperatives.
Concurring with Banda, Ruth Gongwa from Chipala Extension Area who is also a member of Zuluma Farmer Field School said she supports farmer members of Zuluma and Tikondwele Farmer Field Schools in her area after being trained as a community facilitator.
Gongwa added that she attended a review meeting for the project together with fellow farmers and extension workers where they showcased various farm products being produced from their respective farmer field schools and extension planning areas.
“I have personally benefited from the trainings under the project. Through the farmers field school I have learned the recommended practices for growing maize and soya with an intention to produce good quality produce to sell to the market. We also established a village savings and loan group, with membership from the farmer field school. This is our source of capital to finance further agricultural and economic activities. For example, I save money and obtain loans in the VSL group and I used the loan I obtained to establish a second hand clothes selling business.
“I also bought local chickens, ducks, pigeons and goats which provide me with meat, money when I sell and manure for my fields.” she explained.
Gongwa further explained that her household has changed for the better.
During the exhibition at Lisasadzi RTC, farmers showcased different farm products such as groundnuts, soya, maize and beans, among others, which they have and are ready to sell to formal markets.
The Marketing Capacity Building project aims at reducing poverty among farmers through market oriented agricultural production by first strengthening the capacity of the decentralized institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development to support smallholder market-oriented agricultural production.
Organizing smallholder farmers in formal groups and supporting them to be producing for the markets is a key element of the project.