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Story Workshop sensitises farmers on seed varieties

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The Story Works hop Educational Trust (Swet), a development communications nongovernmental organisation, on Tuesday launched the second master farmer (Mlimi Wozitsata) Boot Camp at Thuchira Farm Institute in Mulanje.

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), the Story Workshop is implementing Mlimi Wozitsata project whose goal is to inspire farmers who are growing maize, rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, soya beans and cow peas to adopt improved seed varieties and their associated technologies.

The first Boot Camp, which covered farmers from Lilongwe and Dedza, took place in Lilongwe from May 24 to 28.

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Speaking during the camp launch, Story Workshop Executive Director Kent Mphepo said the project aims at equipping farmers with communication skills that will enable them to reach out to 200,000 farmers with necessary messages on improved seed varieties and their associated technologies.

“Our vision is that in the next 12 months, all farmers will have heard about improved seeds and associated technologies because we believe that Malawians have grown traditional crops and used traditional seeds for too long but many times, they are not producing enough.

“This is the time that Malawians, especially smallholder farmers, should adopt improved varieties and associated technologies. By doing so they will have high yields since the improved seeds are resistant to drought and are more resistant to diseases,” Mphepo said.

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Controller of Agricultural Extension and Technical Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Wilfred Lipita, said it is important for farmers to adopt improved seeds.

“We encourage farmers to plant improved varieties which are high-yielding, drought-tolerant and perform very well under different climatic conditions. High-yielding varieties are important because per unit area they get a lot, almost double or three times what they normally get when they use unimproved varieties,” Lipita said.

The camp, which is being attended by some farmers’ clubs from Zomba and Machinga districts, will be facilitated by crop trainers from Chitedze and Bvumbwe research stations, Thuchira Farm Institute and several other reputable agricultural institutions in the country.

Other trainers will be seed suppliers, farm produce buyers and processors and theatre for development and media experts.

Story Workshop utilises mass media to drive an integrated approach to community empowerment and development and is largely working within the areas of food security, HIV and Aids, nutrition, gender, health, sustainable agriculture, economic inclusion, human rights, good governance and democracy.

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