By Ivy Makwale Kapaswiche

LILONGWE-(MANA)- A local non-governmental organization (NGO) Farm Concern has drilled smallholder farmers from Nkhoma in Lilongwe through its ‘Thrive project’ to sustain their economic needs.

This comes at a time when government through the ministry of Agriculture has implemented Affordable Input Program (AIP) to promote small scale farmers across the country to economically be independent as well turning Malawi a food basket.

Speaking during ‘commercial village trade fair’, in Nkhoma, Senior Programs Manager and country team leader for farm concern, Limbani Kalua, said the trade fair is one of the occasions used as a platform where farmers come into contact with service providers to offer them various platforms.

‘’We offer them a platform where these farmers see what service providers are providing. They are able to ask questions and get trained in terms of seeds, chemicals, agro-dealers and what they want in the products that farmers can provide to them’’ Kalua said.

He added that, the commercial village trade fair through ‘Thrive project’ will equip farmers with different opportunities and ideas on how they can strive to make a difference in their farming activities.

“This is an important function because it coordinates farmers well, and perform wonderfully using the skills attained. So,thrive project’ is creatinga platform where farmers are the ones initiating these things, they can demand service providers to come in a forum like this one so that even when the project phase out the relationship should be sustainable’’ Kalua added.

Peacock Seed Company’s Field Operations Manager, Lovemore Kachamba said that the trade fair will help farmers to have the best variety of seeds with guidance from various stakeholders with more experience.

‘’We have showcased our products, especially seed maize with results for farmers to make a decision on how to choose a good maize seed according to their geographical areas. Farmers are interested in the attributes in as far as performance of those varieties is concerned,’’ Kachamba said.

Kachamba also said that farmers should now dominate new farming traditions to produce more yields in as far as climate change issues are concerned.

‘’We are trying to bring an understanding to farmers that this is new generation where a lot of things has changed due to different reasons.

‘’In the past people used to plant local varieties of which resulted in low yields, and with the coming of this commercial village trade fair, farmers will be able to decide which seed they will plant to have more yields,’’ he said.

Chairperson of Agriculture committee for Lilongwe District Council, Gift Mtolongo, said ‘Thrive project’ will help smallholder farmers to consider farming as business to sustain their families.

‘’The project will help our farmers in Lilongwe to have more harvest since government is also emphasizing on farming as a business.

‘’Through this fair, farmers concerns have been taken by stakeholders in one bag so that they can easily access markets and extension,’’ Mtolongo said.

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