La Plate-forme pour l'agriculture tropicale (TAP)

TAP-AIS project in Malawi: Making strides towards capacity development in Agricultural Innovation Systems for sustainable agri-food systems transformation

28 July 2021, Lilongwe: A major step has been taken towards strengthening of Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) in Malawi with the validation of a national AIS assessment report. The key findings of the AIS assessment will pave the way for a comprehensive capacity development program targeting selected key innovation support service providers to enable them to support climate-relevant, productive, and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems.

“Agricultural innovation is central to sustainable development, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security in our country. We need agricultural innovation to help address the complex and interconnected challenges facing agriculture development such as climate change, low production and productivity, poor markets among others in the country,” said Sandram Maweru, Secretary for Irrigation for the Ministry of Agriculture during the validation workshop for the AIS assessment report.

He emphasized the need for collective action from AIS stakeholders in order to strengthen the system, citing the interconnected challenges facing agriculture development in the country.

The report follows a national assessment process, which has uncovered key functions that enable innovation and structural barriers in the system; documented enablers and hindering factors with regard to policy and regulatory instruments, and identified capacity gaps among AIS actors within the system.

“The TAP-AIS project comes in at the right time to assess the status of AIS in Malawi, identify bottlenecks, opportunities and field capacity of key stakeholders in the AIS to enable the system to operate efficiently,” said Zhijun Chen, FAO Representative in Malawi.

Among the key bottlenecks of the AIS in Malawi, those singled out were, weak coordination and collaboration among key AIS actors, limited stakeholder networking, and inadequate support to farmer innovation.

The report also revealed that despite initiatives for a more friendly policy and regulatory environment, implementation and enforcement mechanisms are key challenges. In addition, key functions such as research support to innovation, marketing knowledge, skills and infrastructure, and advocacy are inadequate.

Findings of the assessment also point to the agriculture sector as having a narrow focus, with low focus on livestock extension and research, and fisheries-extension.  Research is identified as having a focus on few livestock technologies, while livestock and fisheries were found to have few extension staff, causing constraints to service delivery.

The validation workshop for the AIS assessment report took place virtually on 28 July 2021. It involved participants from a wide range of stakeholders, including farmer innovators, district extension platforms, the academia, research, CGIAR institutions, Government, non-governmental and civil society actors and FAO’s Research and Extension unit, Office of innovation.

The national AIS assessment was carried out as part of the “Developing capacities in Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS): scaling up the Tropical Agriculture Platform framework” (TAP-AIS) project in Malawi, which is aimed at strengthening national capacity to innovate in Agricultural Innovation Systems. This project is part of a broader European Union (EU)-funded Initiative called Development of Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA): Towards climate-relevant Agricultural and Knowledge Innovation Systems.

The TAP-AIS project is being implemented in nine countries: Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Cambodia, Laos, Pakistan and Colombia. In Malawi, it is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, over a four-year period from July 2019 to July 2024.


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