By Franco Mwachande Jnr

Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) has decried the low spirit of innovation on the Malawian farmers, a development which has affected the development the agricultural sector.

CAT Executive director Macleod Nkhoma, made the observation on Friday at Natural Resources Collage (NRC) in Lilongwe when they trained 75 lead farmers and agricultural extension workers dubbled agri-technology, innovation and market access.

The 3 – day bootcamp training which among others centred on four value chain crops of Soyabeans, Sunflower, Groundnuts and Cassava was aimed at enhancing the use of proven agricultural technologies to foster the required change through farm level productivity and value chain management.

Said Nkhoma : “We want to impart knowledge to the lead farmers on proper farming practices so that they should also pass the same knowledge to small-holder farmers whom they are working with.

“One of our value chains, Soyabean, there was this problem that we had last season of soyabean rust and realizing that, we said before the season starts we should empower the lead farmers on how to deal with this problem so that when they go back to their communities they also train their farmers just prior to the season starting.”

Nkhoma added that they have also trained lead farmers on the area of market access as they improve productivity.

“The idea is to empower our farmers to increase productivity, they need to know the area of market access. But knowing that market access is also not enough, we have also covered the area of finances so that they know where they can get funding to enhance their business,” he added.

Nkhoma was optimistic saying Extension workers are expected to use the knowledge to provide agricultural extension advisory services to smallholder farmers on the four value chains.

One of ths participants for the bootcamp training, Grace Banda, from Mtunthama EPA in Kasungu describe the training as an eye opener for them saying she has learnt the new farming technologies that will help them to have more yields from a small piece of land.

“The knowledge gained here will be impactful to 35 fellow lead farmers and 328 farmers who are in our Aguja cooperative.”

Lead farmers and extension workers from Kasungu, Mchinji, Nkhotakota, Blantyre, Mzimba, Ntcheu and Lilongwe attended the training which was organised with funding from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World through Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI).

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