La Plataforma de la Agricultura Tropical (TAP)

Malawi holds National Policy Dialogue on Research Capacity for Sustainable Agrifood Systems

Malawi’s AIS organisations geared to facilitate agricultural innovation

On 28 November 2023, the government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Agriculture with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), held the national policy dialogue on ‘Research Capacity for Sustainable Agri-food Systems in the Context of the Agricultural Innovation System (AIS)’ in Lilongwe.

The national policy dialogue was organised to present key policy relevant issues and recommendations from the sub-national policy dialogues that were held in April 2023 in two southern and central districts of Balaka and Ntchisi respectively, with an emphasis on solutions focused on strengthening ‘Research Capacity for Sustainable Agri-food Systems in the Context of the Agricultural Innovation System.

Prof. Charles Masangano, appointed speaker during the dialogue, highlighted the importance of both research and extension in promotion of agricultural innovation in Malawi. He summarized that agricultural research is crucial for developing, testing, and adapting solutions for improving agri-food systems while agricultural extension plays a very big role in disseminating research findings to farmers.

Prof. Charles Masangano calls for bottom-up approaches in agriculture research and extension.(c) FAO/Given Chichitike


Addressing Farmer Challenges

During the dialogue, the participants identified roles that research should play to promote innovation processes such as engagement and coordination using the District Agricultural Extension Services System (DAESS) structures to find workable solutions that address farmer challenges at district level.

Further, the participants highlighted that the role of extension workers in the process of integrating research into DAESS should shift from assembling farmers’ demands and transferring solutions to innovation brokers who should facilitate networking and social learning among farmer researchers, researchers from formal institutions, and other actors across the agri-food systems chain.  

Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) Programmes Manager, Maziko Nkhulambe, observed that sustainable agri-food system can be achieved if different government departments, stakeholders, and partners come together with common priorities to build capacity of AIS organisations in Malawi.

“We applaud the technical and financial support that FAO has provided to us to have this platform where policy makers, researchers, extension service providers, and innovators can come together and find viable solutions to improve agriculture in Malawi”, said Nkhulambe. However, he further stressed that “we need more engagement, dialogues, collaboration, and coordination among researchers and extension providers and other stakeholders to achieve sustainable and innovative agri-food system in the country”.