The Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao) of the United Nations (UN) has told farmers to be innovative if Malawi is to achieve pillar one of the Malawi 2063.
The pillar advocates agricultural productivity and commercialisation.
Fao believes that, with innovation, farmers would be able to produce quality agricultural products which would in turn attract premium prices.
Deputy Fao Representative James Okoth said this during farmer field school master trainers and community-based facilitators’ graduation ceremony in Mzuzu. The cohort had 60 students.
Okoth said extension service is about innovation, challenging the graduates to relate with the problems farmers are facing.
“If we are to achieve the Malawi 2063 agenda, especially pillar one, there is a lot of innovation that would be required,” he said.
The farmers are being trained under KulimaProgramme, which is being implemented by Fao through the Department of Agricultural Extension Services in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Director of Extension Services in the Ministry of Agriculture Jelome Nkhoma said the five-month training sharpens farmer field school master trainers and community-based facilitators.
He said while extension workers are still few in the country, standing at 44 percent vacancy rate, the graduates would help bridge the gap.
One of the master trainers Stoka Nundwe, a farmer from Karonga District, said the field school uses a bottom-up approach which gives farmers the opportunity to suggest solutions to problems they are facing.
Overall, the farmer field school approach is to have critical mass facilitators within the existing extension service providing institutions.
At the end of the programme, which winds up in the next 18 months, at least 600 farmer field school master trainers and 8,000 community-based facilitators would be trained who in turn would support 400,000 productive farming families to improve their productivity, diversification and income generation.
The programme is being implemented in 10 districts of the country.