The Malawian Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza, is urging players in the agricultural sector to take modern technology to farmers and help Malawi move from a predominantly importing nation to an exporting one.
With this message he opened the 12th National Agriculture Fair, held from 27th-29th August 2015 with the theme "Accelerating Agriculture for Economic transformation." The fair gave IITA and other organizations yet another opportunity to showcase their technologies to farmers, processors, consumers, producers, suppliers and partners.
During his speech, Dr. Chiyembekeza expressed his satisfaction about the fair. "As the government we applaud the wide participation of different players in agriculture at this fair as it shows commitment to expose farmers to emerging technologies, promote partnerships and linkages, sharing of ideas, experiences and innovations in agri-business ventures and to facilitate access to farmers. As reflected in government policy document, we are committed to increase agro-income for farmers to realize economic growth".
Concurring with the Minister, Lloyd Phiphira, the N2Africa National Coordinator, believes that IITA is complimenting government efforts by encouraging innovations and promoting improved soyabean and other legumes varieties. According to Phiphiria, a substantial number of farmers have adopted various new legume technologies, especially in the Central Region of Malawi. Yet, there is still a lot to be done to optimize adoption rates of such technologies in other regions as well. "Under the N2Africa project, we have helped a lot of farmers to increase legume yield production and productivity by promoting the adoption of improved varieties, use of inoculant and improved agronomic practices. We have also strengthened our collaboration with partners in the production of soyabean inoculant".
Left: Olivia Kacheyo of IITA hands a soyabean recipe document to one of the visitors to the IITA stand tasting soyamilk
Right: A young man, Macklean Mafubza gets to read an N2Africa publication from the IITA stand
At the fair, IITA showcased different improved legume technologies and products from legumes that included Soyamilk, soya cake, soya vegetables, soya flour, cowpea fritters, groundnut snacks and many other products. Various IITA and N2Africa manuals, guides, leaflets and fliers were also distributed.
Also profiled at the IITA stand was the newly introduced project of Feed the Future (FtF) Malawi: Improved Seed Systems and Technologies. This project aims to increase soyabean production and productivity through a sustainable improved seed system so that Malawi can meet its annual soyabean seed and grain demand.
During the fair it was noted that many farmers would like to venture into soyabean production but do not have enough (recent) information on improved technologies for soyabean. Also, many people do not know the various ways of using soyabean apart from a basis for porridge or as a cash crop.
As compared to 2014 Agriculture Fair, more people visited the IITA pavilion. The recorded number exceeded 800 people. Mr. Phiphira explains the difference in interest by the increasing number of people that are becoming aware of the work of IITA in Malawi. Throughout the fair, the IITA stand attracted a lot of people who were eager to learn about soyabean farming and new technologies. This showed a complete change compared to other years on understanding and perception of people on Soyabean as a cash crop. It also highlighted that soyabean is becoming a national crop with farmers in all the three regions of Malawi eager to venture into soyabean farming.
Lloyd Phiphira, N2Africa coordinator, Malawi