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Veneless Chimpesa: Why Agricultural Extension Matters

Bahkita Mkwingwiri from Balaka District in Malawi works with Gorta-Self Help Africa as a village-based farm adviser to lead farmers in Bisani village. She and Gorta-Self Help Africa extension agent Veneless Chimpesa were amongst the recipients of a travel bursary to attend a ten-week training course at Shuttleworth Agricultural College in the UK this summer. Farming First interviewed them about their experiences in Malawi and the UK. 

Bakhita, what are you responsibilities as a lead farmer in Balaka district?

My role is to help and encourage my fellow farmers how we can improve our families, our community and Malawi as a nation. I share knowledge with them. I grow maize, cotton and pigeon pea, as well as horticulture products. I also encourage working in clubs. This is important because we share knowledge so that we all have enough food in our household.

What are the challenges that farmers in your district are facing, and what practices are you helping them implement?

In Malawi we have the problem of climate change. We do not have regular rain and it affects when we plant. This year we got heavy rain that destroyed the fields. But, because of the training I had from Gorta-Self Help Africa, I planted two seeds per station 60cms apart. My fields were able to withstand the flooding. 

What have you covered in the training course so far? Are you finding new techniques to bring home to your colleagues?

We have been learning about soil testing. This is very important because we need to know about the soil health, so we know how to treat it. This is not something we have done before but it is very important. This is something I will tell the farmers in my district about.

Veneless, what are your responsibilities as an extension working in Balaka district?

I have been working with Self Help Africa since 2006, and I work with the farmers on sustainability issues and capacity building. I also help farmers work on business plans and ways to increase their production. (more…)

New partnership between European Investment Bank and FAO to bolster private sector investment in agriculture

European Investment Bank and FAO partnership

14 July 2015, Addis Ababa – Highlighting a renewed global interest in agriculture, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is expanding its collaboration with FAO, a move aimed at broadening and deepening investment in agriculture in countries outside of the European Union.

The two institutions have signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that seeks to foster investment operations in the field of agriculture, private sector development and value chains that promote both EIB’s priorities and FAO’s strategic objectives.

The agreement, announced during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, further marks the engagement of the EIB in the agribusiness sector and, for FAO, a partnership with the world’s largest multilateral financial institution.

“This is a landmark opportunity for both of us to combine technical knowledge and financial capacity to engage private and public investors in eradicating hunger,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, noting that ensuring enough global food supply for a growing population and making agrifood systems more sustainable would require robust investments in developing countries.

“Agriculture and agribusiness are key sectors for development impact, as they are and will remain central to lives, livelihoods and social stability. But they are also a primary base for local entrepreneurship, employment and growth in many countries around the world. If we can combine FAO’s local experience and know-how with our investment capabilities and technical expertise to better channel much needed finance to benefit both food supply and entrepreneurship, then why should we not do that?” added EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom.

While FAO and EIB have collaborated before, through information-sharing platforms like EastAgri, today’s agreement will intensify their cooperation in the joint analysis, planning and execution of investment operations. FAO’s expertise in investment-related policies and project formulation for investment, together with EIB’s access to international capital markets and prowess in devising robust investment operations, are natural complements to one another. (more…)

Talent Development In Ag – A Call to Action

In October 2013 the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) endorsed its Multi-Year Programme of Work for 2015-17, including a Round Table entitled “A Plan of Action to Build Knowledge, Skills, and Talent Development to Further Food and Nutrition Security”. The endorsement by the CFS of this topic signalled talent development in agriculture would take increased precedence in the United Nations food security agenda. In response to this plan of action, a coalition of interested partners engaged through an iterative process to define strategies for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of talent development systems of the world’s most important industry, agriculture. Several key areas have been identified where there is need for working on progressive goals and innovative partnerships to implement them.

Read the document Talent Development In Ag – A Call to Action (PDF 597KB)

CFS High-Level Forum on Connecting Smallholders to Markets

Thursday 25 June 2015

9.30-17.00, Red Room, FAO Heaquarters, Rome, Italy

Send your questions for the panel:
By Twitter:  UN_CFS #cfshlf
By email:  cfs [at] fao.org with “Smallholder Question” in the subject line

The CFS High-Level Forum on Connecting Smallholders to Markets brings together a wide range of concerned stakeholders to discuss issues, challenges and ways to improve the access of smallholders to markets. The event will also seek to identify ways in which CFS can contribute to addressing those challenges and arrive at broad recommendations on areas for priority action to strengthen smallholder access to markets.

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