Legumes remain the most important crops in Malawi as well as neighbouring countries of Zambia and Mozambique

In a bid to improve the agricultural sector in southern Africa, the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) facilitated strategies for oromoting released technologies among smallholder farmers in Malawi to undertake innovative solutions to the agricultural sector.

This is contained in 2019 agricultural productivity program for southern Africa (APPSA) dissemination project report which highlight different technology pathways.

Among other things, the dissemination project report shows that maize, rice and legumes remain the most important crops in Malawi as well as the neighbouring countries of Zambia and Mozambique

“Use of improved agricultural technologies and practices play a key role in increasing agricultural productivity, and limited access to knowledge and information on the released technologies is negatively impacting on agricultural productivity,” read part of the project report.

Godfrey Liwewe, who was coordinating the project, said, “Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) was a World Bank project which phased out in 2019, but the accomplishments through the project continues to contribute to the agricultural sector in Malawi even though so much needs to be done.”

“We were using different technology dissemination pathways to reach the farming households including radio and television, mobile van campaigns, publications, mounting of on-farm demonstrations by lead farmers.”

Currently, the CCARDESA programme called APPSA, which was supported by the World Bank, is still implemented in some parts of administrative districts of Malawi to embrace the use of released technologies for maize, rice and food legumes, popularizing released technologies among smallholder farmers to facilitate improved productivity and production of maize, rice and food legumes among smallholder farmers through promotion of improved crop management practices and suitable varieties, and tackling some elements of nutrition to reduce vitamin A deficiency by promoting production of nutrient rich crop varieties (bio-fortified varieties).

The project was executed in 20 districts of Malawi which include:  Chitipa, Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Mzimba North and Mzimba South located in the Northern Region of Malawi.

The other areas were Nkhotakota, Mchinji, Kasungu, Lilongwe West, Lilongwe East and Salima located in Central Region of Malawi.

This also included Balaka, Zomba, Thyolo, Blantyre, Phalombe, Mulanje, Nsanje, Neno and Chikwawa located in the Southern Region of Malawi.

 It has been observed that, agricultural production in southern African countries is still faced with challenges which include: low productivity, low intensification and adaptation of promising technologies, vulnerability to climate shocks, inadequate facilities, shortage of qualifies staff and low levels of overall investment and budget support. 

Agricultural productivity program for southern Africa (APPSA) analysis identified several yield gaps that could be narrowed with additional investments in technology adaptation and dissemination.  

The goal of CCARDESA is to sustainably reduce the food insecurity and poverty in the region as pronounced in SADC’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), the Dar es Salaam declaration on food security, and the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of the African Union. 

Agricultural research and technology generation is recognised as one of the prime movers of agricultural development and economic growth, especially in the SADC region, where agriculture is the dominant livelihood activity for the majority of the population.

Investment in agricultural research yields substantial returns in virtually all agricultural commodities in Africa in general and in the SADC region in particular.