By Lumbani Nyasulu
Chief Director of the Ministry of Agriculture ,Irrigation and Water Development Dr Yanira Mtupanyama has lamented the climate related challenges as the lead cause of declining levels of agricultural production in the country.
Mtupanyama made the sentiments on Thursday in Lilongwe during National GCRF- AFRICAP Scenario planning meeting on climate smart agriculture development.
GCRF-AFRICAP is an innovative programme of work funded by United Kingdom in conjunction with Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and in Malawi is coordinated by Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) with an aim of exploring policy pathways for sustainable,productive ,climate smart agricultural systems.
Speaking during the official opening the meeting Mtupanyama said the Government acknowledges that there are several other factors that have contributed to the food security challenge but the climate change is akey cause.
” The low agricultural production in 2018 is attributed to the dry spells that were experienced in severs parts of the southern and central regions between December 2017 and January 2018,” Said Mtupanyama.
She further said National Agriculture Policy set by the Government of Malawi has enhanced biotic and abiotic constraints that demand continued development of improved crops that are tolerant of climate changes.
In her remarks,National Director of CISANET Pamela kuwali said the meeting was important to Malawi’s agriculture sector because it will help to explore policy path ways for sustainable agriculture system in dealing with climate change.
” We are looking at agriculture food system in the next 40 years or by 2050 what will be the agricultural food system interms of production and in view of climate change.so we have put in place policy advisory tools to engage policy holders in the ministry of agriculture,irrigation and water development to harness sustainable food system in the country,” Kuwali said.
On his part ,Chief Executive Officer for FANRPAN ,Munhamo Chisvo advised African governments to use water insufficient through the use of modern irrigation technologies in dealing with climate change impacts.
The Scenario planning meeting on climate smart agriculture development follows the launch of £8 million (7.7 billion MK) research programme focused on improving evidence-based policy making to develop sustainable, productive, agricultural systems, resilient to climate change three months ago.
According to experts, the program is likely to avert food crisis in some African countries including Malawi.
It is led by the University of Leeds, a leadin international university in the north of England, in partnership with FANRPAN, a pan African multi-stakeholder policy network whose regional secretariat is based in Pretoria, South Africa.
The program is focused on generating evidence-based policy to transform agriculture and food systems in Africa with a view of identifying key steps towards a more resilient food system for 2050.
The AFRICAP also aims at improving productivity of farming systems, and their resilience to shocks emanating from climate change impacts and it links to ongoing projects between Leeds and Malawi assessing likely climate futures.
Research will be conducted in the United Kingdom and in selected African countries including Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia, thus enabling the project to provide a multi-country synthesis and lessons.
In Malawi, like in the other benefiting countries, AFRICAP will advise government, donors and civil society on the development of climate-smart agri-food system pathways.
It will look to focus studies and interventions in ‘special agricultural zones’ where research can be turned into evidence, leading to policy that is capable of influencing practices. The GCRF-AFRICAP intends to work with key stakeholders to design climate-smart scenarios and agree development pathways to guide national policy and its implementation and it will involve continued support for ongoing conservation agriculture field trial studies at Chitedze Agricultural Research Station through the Department of Agricultural Research Services.
As FANRPAN’s node host in Malawi, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) will coordinate program activities, including providing support to the Department of Agricultural Research Services to ensure the successful implementation of ongoing field trials at Chitedze Agricultural Research Station; and the administration of a bursary scheme for African and UK scholars to attend bespoke research training courses.
According to Professor Andy Dougill, University of Leeds, AFRICAP will advise on the development of climate-smart agri-food system pathways and create ‘special agricultural zones’ where research can be turned into evidence, leading to policy that is capable of influencing practices.
He said AFRICAP will further assess how food, agriculture and natural resources policies can be developed so that they support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Other partners in the programme include from the UK – the University of Aberdeen, the UK Met Office and Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET), Malawi; National Agriculture Marketing Council (NAMC), South Africa; economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Tanzania and the Agriculture Consultative Forum (Zambia).p