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CAT tips smallholder farmers on crop diversification, increased income

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As one way of improving crop diversification, productivity as well as increased income and food security among Malawi smallholder farmers, the Center for Agricultural Transformation (CAT), has advised farmers to use improved seeds to increase output.

CAT sounded the advice during a farmers field day held at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources- NRC campus. The field day was organized to enable farmers to appreciate and adapt to the new farming technologies.

CAT is an inclusively science, technology and business incubation centre of excellence that helps smallholder Malawian farmers make economically viable, data driven for diversifying their livelihoods.

CAT officials addressing farmers in Lilongwe

CAT is made possible by a five-year grant (2019-2024) from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) through its affiliate, the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI).

In his remarks, CAT Executive Director Macleod Nkhoma said they are training farmers on how they can improve their soils to maximize productivity.

Nkhoma observed that the majority of the farmers were growing their crops on soils that were extremely poor and degraded so that they had to do soil amendment through a soil scientist and the soils improved so that the yields have come back.

“It is very crucial for farmers to appreciate as you have seen that in the world today the inorganic fertilizers have short up so what we are encouraging farmers is that they can make their own organic fertilizers and we have partners like NASFAM as well as Green Fields they actually help farmers on how they can make their own cheaper fertilizers and you have appreciated that NASFM they are making fertilizers known as mbeya using local materials so it is very possible that our farmers can still make good yields on the same unit of land utilizing these cheap fertilizers that can make on their own. I would like to thank our funders, the Foundation for Smoke Free Word- ATI, which gives funding for us to be able to showcase various technologies to our farmers,” he said.

CAT officials addressing farmers in Lilongwe–Photo by Wilfred Golden

Country Director for ATI and vice president for FSFW, Candida Nakhumwa, said as the pillar number one of Malawi 2063 is focusing on agricultural productivity and commercialization they realized that they cannot be talking of productivity and commercialization if they do not integrate science and technology.

Nakhumwa noted that most farmers were not paying much attention to productivity.

Sheila Kang’ombe, programme manager for Lilongwe ADD, said she was impressed with the strides CAT is making in promoting agricultural diversification in line with climate change.

“It is very necessary to bring farmers together as they appreciate what is happening here, as what we are doing here is demonstrating on how farmers are suppose to be doing in there gardens so when they come and see how the crops are performing it really helps because they will go back and do what they have seen,” she said.

CAT is implemented as a consortium comprising four leading agricultural development and academic institutions, which are Land O’Lakes Venture37, University of Minnesota, Stellenbosch University and Malawi University of Science.

LUANAR hosts the two CAT Smart Farms at its Bunda and NRC campuses.

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