European Union (EU) Ambassador to Malawi Rune Skinnebach has described research and extension services as key to the promotion of agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers amid unstable weather patterns and climate change.
Skinnebach made the remarks yesterday during the handover of laboratory equipment and research supplies to Chitedze Agriculture Research Station in Lilongwe.
“The handover of the K670 million laboratory equipment and research supplies aims at strengthening the partnership between the EU and the Malawi Government to transform the agricultural sector to make it more productive and climate resilient,” Skinnebach said.
He observed that Malawi is still not sufficiently diversified as more farmers still depend on rain-fed agriculture, which greatly contributes to an increase in pests and diseases that contribute to low yields and poor harvest.
He added that climate change is amplifying the magnitude of the problem.
Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe said the state-of-the-art equipment will, among other things, be used for testing soils to achieve increased productivity of crops among smallholder farmers.
“The equipment will facilitate the response to the needs of smallholder farmers for innovative, climate smart and, most importantly, locally available and low cost technologies,” Lowe said.
The equipment, which is funded through the EU flagship program Kulima, will also be used to detect pests and diseases in bananas.