The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation has said it is impressed with seed fairs that Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao) is implementing to support El Nino affected rural communities to restore their agricultural productivity capacity.
In its 2016/2017 enhanced agriculture emergency response to the negative effects of El Nino in Malawi, Fao is using seed fairs to enable farmers to use vouchers in buying seed of their own choice.
So far, Fao has supported about 11,500 farmers under rain-fed component in Salima, Mzimba and Balaka and about 1, 500 farmers have been targeted for winter seed fairs.
Speaking after the presentation of a seed fair for vulnerable farmers in Salima on Tuesday, the visiting Lusaka-based Italian Ambassador, Filippo Scammacca, said it is amazing that farmers are now aware of their responsibility in crop production.
Fao sought funding of about $1.1 million to support agriculture restoration from September 2016 to August this year.
“This initiative has been very well devised by the government of Malawi, Fao and Italian NGO, Coopi, which has been working here for many years and the people. I am very optimistic of the outcome of this project in helping people who have been affected by El Nino,” Scammacca said.
He said while it may not necessarily mean supporting the same project in future, his government will continue supporting food security projects in the country.
“Not only are we there to respond to disaster but rather avoid disaster,” he said.
Fao representative in Malawi, Florence Rolle, said it is better to use seed fairs in the distribution of inputs than using the rigid system of centrally procuring a lot of one type of seed for all farmers.
“Seed fairs empower farmers, because when they have a voucher it is the same as having cash. They can buy inputs which they like. It also economically empowers local communities as the seed suppliers are identified within the local setup,” Rolle said.
One of the beneficiaries, Felix Kachedwa, asked Italian government and Fao to scale up the programme to enable several vulnerable farmers to benefit.
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