Taking agricultural technologies to farmers

The training which was conducted last week in Lilongwe, Dedza, Ntcheu and Kasungu saw several technologies being shared with the farmers to use in their fields.

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) through the Malawi Agro-ecological Intensification Hub (AEI Hub Malawi) has trained over 120 farmers in different agricultural technologies meant to promote good farming practices.

The training which was conducted last week in Lilongwe, Dedza, Ntcheu and Kasungu saw several technologies being shared with the farmers to use in their fields.

The training tackled the principles, practices, strengths and weaknesses of a broad range of agro-ecological and integrated soil fertility management (ISFM).

These included agro-forestry practices, in-situ rainwater harvesting, conservation agriculture, use of compost, use of lime, use of mixed maize-legume systems for green manures, processing and use of plants as botanical pesticides.

One of the participants Liveness Chikanda from Lilongwe thanked LUANAR for the project saying she had been facing challenges in pest management as well as access to fertiliser saying the training was timely.

“The training today has equipped me with knowledge on the new technologies that can be used to increase crop yield. One of the things that interested me more is the use of herbs as pesticides. When I go back I will use these locally available herbs to protect my crops from pests and diseases,” said Chikanda.

Another farmer Geresomo Mwale from Kasungu said he has been having challenges to buy fertilisers due to lack of finances and this affected his crop productivity.

“We have learnt a lot of technologies which will help us in our farming endeavors. I grow beans and most of the time they were affected by pests. It was difficult to deal with them as at times I did not have readily available money to buy synthetic pesticides and by the time I find money mostly the crops could be already damaged hence huge losses. The use of botanical pesticides will help me spray my field on time as they are free and easily accessible,” said Mwale.

He said that the theories learnt from this training were useful and that he expects them to bring change in the way he indulges his farming activities.

“I thank LUANAR for bringing these technologies to us, most of these uses materials that are locally available and this will improve our agricultural productivity which in turn will promote food security,” said Mwale.

According to the AEI Hub Malawi Coordinator, Professor Vernon Kabambe, the hub conducted this training in its working sites as a means of empowering farmers by reviewing with them the various ISFM technologies which they may consider implementing in their fields.

“The training sessions and discussions would also guide the project in the potential areas of intervention as the Malawi Agro-ecological Intensification hub looks to go into the second phase of funding," he said.

Professor Kabambe added that a lot of the technologies were on conserving water in the fields and improving and maintaining soil fertility.

“We, therefore, believe that if farmers go back and take up some of these, they will eventually prevent erosion and nutrient loss in their fields and improve fertility, thus eventually improving their yields, income and household nutrition, “he said.

He added that the use of botanical plants to control pests will save them money and thus increase profits saying botanical pesticides also protect beneficial insects such as insect pollinators, which increase yields.

The AEI Hub Malawi was approved for funding by the McKnight Foundation of USA in December 2018 and launched in February 2019. Its main aim is to bring stakeholders in research, legume, soils, and farmer participation, with extensionists and formal and informal farmer organizations to function as a network that supports research to respond to the changing environment and farm variability.

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A guest post by
A communications specialist interested in agriculture and natural resources. I am currently pursuing an MSc in Gender and Development at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)