The KULIMA Multi Annual Programme Estimate (MAPE) will this financial year (2021/22) conduct the rehabilitation of Mbelwa Residential training Centre (RTC) in Mzimba. The RTC, which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, is currently in a dilapidated state with limited use. The procurement process for the rehabilitation of the facility was launched on 25th August 2021. As part of this process, the KULIMA MAPE on Wednesday 8th September 2021 organized a site visit for potential bidders to assess the extent of work required to rehabilitate the infrastructure. It is expected that once finalized, the facility will also assist Mzimba District Council in generating revenue by hiring out the facility once it is rehabilitated. In the picture below, potential bidders assessing the works required to rehabilitate the RTC.
The KULIMA PCU and the Department of Land Resources Conservation is monitoring implementation of Agroforestry activities in KULIMA districts. The objective of the exercise is to assess progress in implementation of agroforestry technologies specifically to monitor how the out-planted trees are performing in the field. Monitoring the performance of the tree planting programme is crucial at this stage as it helps in answering critical questions such as how many of the trees that were planted are still surviving. So far, the team has been to Karonga, Mzimba North, Mzimba South, Nkhata Bay, Kasungu, Salima and Nkhotakota.
In the picture below is Tephrosia volgelii (mtetezga) field ready for local seed collection in Mathandani section, Eswazini EPA in Mzimba South
The KULIMA Programme held its fourth Programme Steering Committee (PSC) meeting on Wednesday 28th April 2021. The meeting, which was conducted virtually, was chaired by the Principal Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Erica Maganga. The objective of the meeting was to review progress in implementation for the period October 2020 to March 2021. In her remarks, the PS applauded the various milestones that have been achieved during the review period despite the COVID-19 pandemic. These included delivery of research supplies to Chitedze, Bvumbwe and Lunyangwa Agriculture Research Stations; delivery of equipment to the Pesticides Control Board at Bvumbwe; signing of the EUR12.5 million loan facility between European Investment Bank and Ecobank Malawi Limited; delivery of inputs to farmers as part of the COVID-19 response; distribution of clean banana suckers to farmers for the establishment of nurseries and orchards of which cumulatively the programme has distributed about 120,000 suckers; and continued formation of farmer field schools as part of efforts to strengthen extension service delivery of which to date 9,483 farmer field schools have been formed against a target of 13,400. She, however, called for enhanced coordination among different components of the programme in order to further improve programme implementation. The meeting was attended by PSC members and all implementing partners.
GIZ’s Green Innovation Centre Malawi Premieres a Documentary: “KULIMA-School Without Walls” on Friday, 7th May 2021 at 8:30 PM
By Emmanuel Tolani, GIAE
The driving force of Malawian agriculture are the smallholder farmers who, on average, manage farms of around one hectare. Climate change and declining soil fertility make it increasingly difficult for them to provide enough food for a fast-growing population. The Malawian government, with funding from the European Union (EU), initiated the KULIMA Programme to improve the situation of these farmers and ensure food security. The GIZ (a German development cooperation agency) programme Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIAE), as part of the German cooperation funded by BMZ (German federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development), contributes to the KULIMA project through ensuring the availability and use of the expertise and relevant innovations and technologies from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). One of the measures under KULIMA programme is the establishment of Farmer Field Schools. KULIMA-School Without Walls is a captivating documentary about CGIARs’ contribution to the KULIMA programme. It portrays farmers, scientists and extension officers making these schools possible. It shows the concept behind the schools, demonstrates innovative farming practices and invites more farmers to join. Learn how improved agricultural technologies, meeting the needs of Malawian smallholder farmers, are identified, produced and disseminated through Farmer Field Schools by the CGIAR research centers and other implementing partners. The virtual premiere of this documentary has been scheduled on Friday, May 7, 2021 at 8:30 PM, Malawi time. The event will be covered live on Zodiak TV and Facebook pages of KULIMA Movie, Zodiak Online and European Union in Malawi.
ENHANCING COVID-19 PREVENTION FOR RURAL FARMING HOUSEHOLDS: GOVERNMENT OF MALAWI, FAO AND UNICEF PROVIDE HAND WASHING AND INFORMATION RESOURCES TO COMMUNITIES WITH EU SUPPORT
The Government of Malawi in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are currently working to enhance water, sanitation and hygiene practices for COVID-19 awareness and prevention among farming communities. They are facilitating this through provision of handwashing buckets, soaps and information materials to rural farming communities. The items are valued at $950,000 and are being funded by the European Union (EU).
“With the distribution of inputs such as buckets and soaps for handwashing coupled with additional information materials to enhance personal protection, it is expected that households adopt better preventive behaviour and can continue engaging with food production and nutrition activities,” said Luis Amaya Ortiz, Head of Project Coordination at FAO.
Following rapid development of the pandemic in December 2020, Malawi has since been overwhelmed by a second wave of COVID-19. An increase in confirmed cases and related deaths due to the pandemic led the government to reinstitute measures such as restrictions to movement, mass gatherings and a six-week school closure period.
In this context, availability of hand washing supplies and increased awareness of COVID-19 and its consequences to human health remain important for preventing spread of the disease and for promoting safe behaviours among communities not only in urban, but also in rural areas. These are also critical to reinforce behavioural change communication and continuity of activities being implemented under the EU-funded KULIMA and Afikepo programmes, which are aimed at improving agricultural productivity and ultimately, food and nutrition security.
KULIMA and Afikepo are being implemented through outreach platforms of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and care groups, where activities involve extensive group interactions. Measures have been implemented to reduce numbers in routine meetings and field activities following government protocols as well as emphasizing physical distancing and use of masks. Rebecca Phiri, a community based facilitator for Alinafe FFS in Kasungu district, confirms however that lack of handwashing facilities for group activities has been a challenge.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, our groups used to meet regularly, but since the coming of this disease and the knowledge we gained about the disease, things changed. Being able to protect ourselves was difficult especially once away from home. The idea of getting together in groups without protective equipment has been frightening,” she said confirming that the buckets and soaps will make a difference.
For farmers such as Rebecca, the rain-fed season is the time when agricultural and field learning activities are intensified. Fear of risks associated with physical meetings without adequate protection pose a setback to farmer learning within her farmer field school.
Maria Kambulo a care promoter in Nkhotakota district says that she was in same predicament and that having dedicated handwashing material will help with reducing risk of transmission during meetings. She voluntarily supports two care groups, each with ten cluster leaders who themselves voluntarily support eight to ten households with nutrition and related issues.
“The posters and leaflets, in our own language, will help us to continue raising awareness of the pandemic to households, just as the leaflets will be useful for awareness of community members who may not have heard about it yet,” she said.
The provisions include 52,951 handwashing buckets to care group volunteers and 1,000 units for farmer field schools, 799,820 bars of soap for hand washing and 52,000 posters and 470,000 leaflets. Overall, the initiative aims to improve awareness of COVID-19 and contribute to prevention of transmission for 578,455 households in the 14 districts of Chitipa, Karonga, Mzimba, Nkhatabay, Kasungu, Nkhotakota, Salima, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mulanje, Phalombe, Zomba, Neno and Blantyre rural.
This distribution is part of the ongoing efforts that project partners have carried out since July 2020 under the National COVID-19 Response Plan launched by the Government. Previous efforts include awareness drives using road shows, community radio stations, and orientation sessions about the pandemic.
According to the Public Health Institute of Malawi, the first cases of COVID-19 in Malawi were initially confirmed in April 2020. To date, Malawi has conducted 209,096 tests for COVID-19, and has had recorded 32,894 confirmed cases and 1,088 deaths. The country received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, 360,000 doses, on 5 March 2020.
The Ministry of Agriculture through the Department of Crops Development (DCD) is this week conducting monitoring and surveillance of migratory pests on rainfed crops in KULIMA implementing districts. Fall armyworm and African Armyworm are the migratory pests that pose a significant threat on national food security. The districts being visited include Chitipa, Karonga, Mzimba North, Salima, Mulanje, Thyolo and Chiradzulu. The picture below shows one the teams interacting with farmers from Bwengu EPA in Mzimba North.
Tikondane farmer field school (FFS) members of Mtipasonjo village, group Mbalame, T/A Kadewere in Chiradzulu District, are singing joyful songs after one year of joining farmer field school. The members joined farmer field school in October 2019. The members wanted to address the problem of dryness in their field during winter season and fall army worm damages. During the 2019/2020 season the group did studies focusing on fall armyworm management. In the just ended winter season, the group applied lessons from the study of using neem on fall armyworm. Over the years, most of the members have been experiencing dryness in fields during winter such that, whenever they have irrigated the moisture was not staying for long hours during the day. This caused them to spend much of their time watering the crops for almost each and every day and others twice a day.
The members with the help of community-based facilitator designed two plots one with residue cover and the other with no cover. These plots were in 10m by 20m in size and they planted maize on a spacing of 75cm ridges, 25cm between planting stations and one plant per planting station. This practice of planting one plant per station was not their way of planting maize but they also learnt from the KULIMA BETTER project. The group meet once every week to collect data on the studies using agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA) tool that also helps them to make good decisions.
“We always come early in the morning once every week to collect field data. Basically, we will measure how the crop is growing and monitor pest and diseases.
The FFS have now completed the study and according to the data they were collecting they can see that the covering field can conserve moisture as they have seen witnessed themselves. After gaining the knowledge the school invited non-members from the surrounding villages to share with them what they have learnt but the only thing that limited the numbers was corvid 19 which made the school to only invite few people from each village. “Am very happy for what my people are learning from this project and I am pleading with ActionAid to spread the FFS in the whole area, myself I love to join in one of these schools” said GVH Mbalame
The FFS has now harvested the field, from the covered plot they got 149kg and 119kg on un mulched plot. The FFS have agreed that each member should have covered field to practice what they have learnt and see if this is indeed working on conserving the moisture.