By: Collings Kalivute
The Ministry of Agriculture has said inadequate extension workers in the country is derailing efforts to overcome risks and uncertainties in agricultural production orchestrated by climatic related shocks.
The Ministry’s Director of Irrigation Services, Geofrey Mamba said this on Wednesday in Kasungu district during the handover ceremony of 300 bicycles to lead farmers donated by GIZ, where he disclosed that the vacancy rate for agriculture extension services in the country stands at 30 percent.
Mamba hailed the partnership between GIZ and the Ministry of Agriculture, arguing that it is crucial in improving the country’s agriculture sector.
“With the 30 percent vacancy rate of extension workers in the country, lead farmers should step in to compliment work by such workers. Therefore, it is important to equip and promote lead farmers in the country so that farmers should embrace the adoption of new modern ways of farming for more productivity,” he said.
Meanwhile, GIZ Country Director, Alan Walsch said through the organization, they will train more lead farmers to address the gap.
Walsch said the organization has pumped in 48 million Kwacha in the procurement of 300 bicycles and has since promised to continue supporting the country’s agriculture sector.
“As GIZ we will continue supporting the country in the agriculture sector. Today, we have handed over 300 bicycles to lead farmers and we are also supporting the Ministry of Gender with the same kind of support,” said Walsh.
In her remarks, a lead farmer under Lisasadzi Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Kasungu district, Beatrice Raphael said the bicycle will ease mobility challenges as it will enable her to reach out to more farmers in hard-to-reach areas with the modern ways of farming.
“I used to reach out to about 135 farmers in my area. With this bicycle I am sure that I will now be reaching out to more than 300 farmers as it will ease mobility challenges, I have been facing,” said Raphael.
Five districts of Kasungu, Nkhotakota, Nkhatabay, Mchinji and Mzimba have benefited from the GIZ’s Green Innovation Centers for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIAE) Project in Malawi.