Agriculture extension strategy targets increased coordination

Lilongwe, Agricultural extension and advisory service providers in the country have stressed on the need for the extension strategy which is currently under review, to strengthen aspects of coordination and standards to make delivery of the services more effective.

Stakeholders from different sectors within the field of agricultural extension, noted during the Malawi Extension Strategy Input workshop in Lilongwe Friday that lack of coordination and proper guiding standards have slowed down the provision of extension services in the country.

The workshop which was organised by the Malawi Forum for Agricultural Advisory and Services (MaFAAS) was aimed at gathering input from different stakeholders to inform the extension strategy which is being developed by the Department of Agricultural Services and Extension.

Chairperson for MaFAAS Charles Masangano said it was imperative that smallholder farmers in the country get the required services and information to better their farming methods so that ultimately agricultural production is improved in the country.

“We last had an exercise of this nature in the year 2000 when we started implementing the extension policy. And now 17 years later we need to look at some of the things we have gotten wrong and those we have gotten right.

“What is agreeable is that we want to make progress. Over the years we have seen several policies in the agriculture field being brought into play, there is need for all these policy documents to be talking to each other if we are to move as unit,” Masangano said.

He said as active players in the field of extension services it is important for them to have a valued voice in the strategy which is being formulated so that when it comes out, everybody involved should claim ownership of the strategy and be willing to implement it.

“The strategy is very crucial to the development of agriculture. We want extension services which are well coordinated and standardised and those which will help the farmer and even other stakeholders in the value chain processors, and marketing agents.

“Everybody should be able to say we are getting deserved rewards from our agricultural production services and for that to happen, extension and advisory services have a central role,” the chairperson said.

Assistant Chief Agricultural Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Noel Limbani said the pluralistic approach in the extension sector has contributed to the lack of coordination where at times different players have appeared to be doing their own thing.

“We have tried so hard to make everyone pull in one direction as a department and that was one of the reasons why MaFAAS was established. It is our hope that, in the strategy which is being worked on, issues of coordination will be addressed accordingly,” he said.

Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development identified a consultant who is reworking the extension strategy to bring it in tandem with several reforms that the agricultural extension system has undergone over the years.

The workshop was attended by academicians, CSOs, government departments and NGOs working in extension services.

Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA