The Kutukula Ulimi M’Malawi (KULIMA) Multi-Annual Programme Estimate (MAPE) is a six-year Programme which aims to contribute to fulfilling one of the three objectives of the KULIMA Sustainable Agriculture Programme which is to increase agricultural productivity and diversification in a participatory, sustainable and climate-change resilient manner.
The programe, which is funded by the European Union (EU) through the 11th European Union Development Fund (EDF) seeks to achieve this by providing overall coordination and complementary support for the implementation of relevant interventions by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) and other stakeholders like FAO, GiZ and NGO Consortium led by Self Help Africa
The objective of the MAPE responds to the recognition that agriculture and food security is one of the nine stated priority development areas in the national development strategy but it is, however, facing increasing challenges from climate change, low productivity, progressive depletion of natural resources -soil fertility among others, and over-dependence on two crops: maize for food security, and tobacco for exports.
One of the key activities being implemented by the Programme is the revamping of the banana industry through the distribution of clean planting materials and multiplication of suckers through macro-propagation and micro-propagation of bananas. Macro-propagation of bananas is being done by farmers as well as the Ministry of Agriculture through Agriculture Research Stations. On the other hand, micro-propagation of bananas is being implemented in tissue culture laboratories at Agriculture Research Stations and Lilongwe University of Agriculture, and Natural Resources, Bunda campus. Another key activity being implemented under the Programme is propagation of fruit trees at the Agriculture Research Stations.
Macro-propagation of Bananas by Farmers
As of July 2019, the KULIMA Programme Estimate had facilitated the distribution of about 36,000 banana suckers for the establishment of community orchards and nurseries; In addition, 6,453 are expected to be distributed by the period September 2019 – February 2020. All these suckers are being distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development through the Department of Crops Development in all the 10 KULIMA implementing districts of Mulanje; Thyolo; Chiradzulu; Salima: Nkhatabay; Nkhotakota; Mzuzu; Chitipa: Karonga and Mzimba.
From these, farmers are then expected to multiply the suckers for further distribution among group members and to other groups formed within the districts as pass on programme. In total, small holder famers have produced 8,595 suckers, 4,174 from humidity chambers and 4,421 from mother blocks. Famers have also started the pass on programme in the districts which benefitted from the first phase of the distribution and these include Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Mulanje and Thyolo.
One group of farmers in Nkhotakota, which has managed to pass on 200 suckers to a community orchard nearby, believe the programme has the potential to transform the lives of the farmers as well as restore the glory of the banana production.
Friday Phiri is a member of Chithowe Club – a group comprising of 47 members- after receiving 200 banana suckers in March 2019, the group has now managed to pass on 200 to another community club within the same area.
“As farmers this is good progress for us, we expect 110 farming households to benefit from such arrangements and together we can get back to the way things were before the banana bunchy top virus wreaked havoc,” he said.
Micro-propagation and Macro-Propagation at Agriculture Research Stations
In addition to working with farmers, the programme is also working with Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Lunyang’wa Agriculture Research Station and Bvumbwe Agriculture Research Station where micro-propagation through tissue culturing is being done.
Despite some challenges, like contamination of some plantlets, which is hindering the process- Bvumbwe research in particular has managed to only initiate 38 tissues against the target of 60,000.
Bvumbwe Deputy Station Manager, Felix Chipojola said the station has also established its own Banana orchard whose major purpose is to not only act as a demonstration plot to farmers, but also preserve banana varieties.
The banana orchard is 2 hectares with an estimation of 2222 suckers but the current target is 3 hectares.
“In the event one Banana orchard is attacked by virus, we are in the process of also establishing two mother orchards will be established at Kasinthula and Makoka Research Station -one hectare each- to mitigate the risk. We are also working to find a solution on contamination of our tissue in the laboratory,” he said.
In addition, the established mother orchard at Bvumbwe will also: be a source of suckers for distribution to farmers; Source of income through the sale of suckers.
Propagation of fruit trees
In terms fruit propagation Bvumbwe Research Station has grafted 3,100 mangoes against a target of 5000; and 8,530 macadamia seedlings have been grafted against on overall target of 10,000 of which 8,120 have been planted. In addition, about 5,800 seedlings of citrus have been planted against an overall target 5,000. Of these, 5,000 have been planted at Bvumbwe Research Station and the rest at Lunyangwa Agriculture Research Station (LARS).
All the activities being implemented by the KULIMA Programme Estimate are aimed at having a positive impact on the targeted beneficiaries most of which are the smallholder families. For example, the implementation of banana activities is aimed at improving the food and nutrition security of households as well as their economic wellbeing. This in line with the Government development objectives for the agriculture sector as outlined in the National Agriculture Policy (2016-20), the National Agriculture Investment Plan (2017/18-2022/23) as well as the third Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III).