Since ending of 2014, FARA and partners are empowering farmers – through the competitive Research Fund (CRF) of PAEPARD – on how to reduce the aflatoxin contamination in groundnut.
The CRF project “Stemming Aflatoxin pre- and post-harvest waste in the groundnut value chain (GnVC) to improve food and nutrition security in the smallholder farming families” is coordinated by the National Small Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and is implemented in the partnerships with FANRPAN (Pretoria), NRI (University of Greenwich in the UK), DARS (Malawi) and ZARI (Zambia). Before the steering committee meeting was held, members organized a field visit to groundnut farmers in the District of Mchinji (109 Km of Lilongwe) to witness pre- and post-harvest management of the aflatoxin.
The project has tested many technologies including the double versus single row planting from which Maria Banda a farmer in Mchinji gave a short lecture to visitors. She said the production from the two practices is not as much different. However, she added that “in climate change conditions with no rains, the double row is indicated to conserve the moisture while in normal rain conditions, the single row planting is recommended”. As per post-harvest technologies the Inverted windrow seems to show a breakthrough with less burden to famers and good rate of dried pods.
Addressing the steering committee members at the opening of the meeting, the Chief Executive Officer of NASFAM, Dr Betty Chinyamunyamu said that “this project has demonstrated the strength of collaboration and reinforces information flow between researchers, extensionists and policy advocates. This combination is a power house. From NASFAM point of view, this project has strengthened the extension advisory content and the evidence in influencing policy formulation/implementation”.
She added that numerous lessons were learnt from that partnership of which two are to be highlighted: (i) the undisputed role of farmers in research for development; (ii) the need for a holistic approach to challenges facing farmers: Addressing aflatoxin by promoting adoption of pre and postharvest interventions whilst at the same time enhancing access to better and rewarding markets for farmer produce.
NASFAM, PAEPARD has contributed beyond a product. It is about methodology for achieving agricultural development; it is about approaches to farmer engagement and the need to strengthen platforms of engagement that will form the basis for farmer engagement, policy dialogue and creation of community of practice.
There is need for FARA coordinated PAEPARD, to take the lessons learnt, the evidences generated through research to policy discussion at national, regional and global level. NASFAM wishes to see PAEPARD partners influencing changes in policies and providing demonstrator projects with impact at farmer level so that policies are designed to promote such initiatives for scaling/commercializing and sustainability.