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CAT drills farmers on post-harvest management, financial literacy and market access

As the 2023/2024 comes to an end, smallholder farmers need to be empowered on post-harvest crop management, financial literacy and market access for them to maximize benefits from their hard work, the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) has said.

CAT Executive Director Macleod Nkhoma made the remarks on Friday 12 April 2024 during the closing ceremony of a two-week smallholder farmers’ bootcamp on post-harvest crop management, financial literacy and market access held at Lisasadzi Residential Training Centre in Kasungu.

“Our aim, as CAT, is to help smallholder farmers diversify into other value chains other than just tobacco. In doing that, we want the farmers to ensure productivity is enhanced and adopt high-yielding technologies as well as accessing markets. But as they produce they now have a challenge of post-harvest losses, a topic which has been part of the training in the past two days,” he said.

Nkhoma noted that post-harvest losses account for over 40 percent of crop losses; hence, the need for farmers to have adequate knowledge on this, including issues of finance management such as record keeping and marketing of produce.

Funded by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World through the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI), the aim of the training was to equip farmers with knowledge and practical skills in effective post-harvest handling techniques, access to agricultural financing and collective marketing.

The training drew 70 participants from CAT impact areas across the country, targeting smallholder farmers involved in various value chains such as groundnuts, soybean, sunflower, cassava as some of the viable alternatives to tobacco production.

One of the participants, Grace Banda, a lead farmer from Kasungu, stated that the training had opened her eyes on the importance of using certified seeds in soybean and groundnut production as well as benefits of village savings and loans to farmers.

Participant receives certificate as Khan (L) and Nkhoma (R) looks on.

“The CAT invited us to this training to learn new things. While here, I have learnt the need for proper crop management practices in soybeans and groundnuts. This knowledge will greatly help me as a farmer to improve my household food security and incomes,” explained Banda.

On his part, Christopher Sandifolo, who was part of the training, expressed satisfaction with the knowledge he had gained particularly on soybean and groundnut production, village savings and loans as well as  benefits of collective marketing.

“Most of the times we, farmers, rely on government to give us seeds and fertilizers but we have learnt during this training that we can procure these inputs on our own through proceeds from village savings and loans,” Sandifolo, a lead farmer of 400 smallholder farmers in T/A Mazengera in Lilongwe, noted.

Riz Khan, Program Manager at the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) said it was his organization’s interest and strategy to support smallholder farmers as they transition to new alternatives to tobacco through its funding to the CAT.

“It is important to prepare the farmers to address the challenges they are facing, post-harvest management is a big issue in new alternatives and we need to expose them to new technologies and help them address challenges they face such as post-harvest management,” he said.

During the training, some of the topics were understanding post-harvest losses, best practices in post-harvest management, quality control and market linkages, sharing of knowledge and experiences on Village Savings and Loans, among others.

At the end of the training, all the 70 participants received certificates of attendance.

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