On Thursday 28th November 2019, CISANET successfully launched its Strategic Plan for the period of 2019 to 2023. The high level event which took place at BICC in Lilongwe brought together more than 100 participants from local and international organisations, government ministries, departments and agencies; private sector and academia.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa who was the guest of honour injected hope in the participants saying government will continue putting more efforts to uplift the agriculture sector which is the backbone of Malawi’s economy.
Nankhumwa said: “As we are all aware, challenges that are currently facing the agriculture sector are numerous and keep evolving. At the core of these challenges is the question: How do we strengthen the resilience of the sector to weather and market shocks? Government is committed to respond to these challenges through sufficient budget allocations and policy implementation. However, government needs strong partnerships with multiple stakeholders to respond to these challenges. Civil Society Organisations should therefore continue collaborating with government in developing the agriculture sector.”
The launch of CISANET Strategic Plan came barely few weeks after the MoAIWD launched its Strategic Plan. Nankhumwa was happy to see synergies between the two vital strategic plans.
He described the event as a milestone in Malawi’s agriculture sector as the CISANET Strategic Plan brings government and civil society organisations closer in as far as efforts to enhance agriculture is concerned.
CISANET works in line with its three thematic areas namely Livestock, Agriculture and Dairy Development (LADD); Access to Profitable Markets; and Nutrition Friendly and Aquaculture Resilience. Leaders of these thematic groups made presentations at the event highlighting both successes and challenges that each faces.
Making his presentation for LADD, Herbert Chagona who is also executive director for Milk Producers Association of Malawi, said Malawi’s neglected livestock sector can be revived and become more beneficial to smallholder farmers and the country’s economy if the sector is given policy direction and befitting extension services.
Chagona’s presentation disclosed that it is sad that the livestock department always gets the least share of funding within the Ministry of Agriculture budget and has been given only 3.1 percent in the ministry’s current budget. The presentation noted that this, coupled with lack of a standalone policy to govern the livestock sector and absence of extension services, are letting down the sector.
In his response to these concerns, Nankhumwa, concurred with Chagona and promised that government will do something. “In the era of climate change with its effects, our crops are affected. In the event that there are no good rains, farmers can rely on livestock to sustain their lives. In future budgets, government will consider increasing allocation to the livestock sector,” said Nankhumwa.
The other two thematic groups also made their presentations. Dr Felix Lombe (AICC Chief Executive Officer) made a presentation for Access to Profitable Markets; while Virginia Mzuzu from Self Help Africa made a presentation for Nutrition Friendly and Aquaculture Resilience.
Making a key note address titled “Climate Resilience Building for Malawi: Research & Civil Society Food System Partnership Needs” at the same launch, Professor Andy Dougill who is executive dean University of Leeds’ faculty of environment in United Kingdom, said there is need for joint efforts among stakeholders to fight against effects of climate change and promote agriculture in Malawi. He also said Malawi should promote research for agriculture to be successful.
“There should be a clear link between the research institutions & policy-making process,” said professor Dougill.
CISANET National Director, Pamela Kuwali, said the strategic plan will guide the network in collaborating with government to transform agriculture in Malawi.
“Everything in the Strategic Plan is aligned to the National Agriculture Policy (NAP) which is also trying to transform agriculture to the extent that farmers will be able to increase production and access to markets.
“Aligning ourselves to this policy will enable us to work with our member organisations, development partners, private sector and government in developing the agriculture sector,” she said.
Kuwali said for the three thematic areas to be achieved and for CISANET to best serve its members, the Strategic Plan focuses on five key strategic priorities namely mutual accountability and transparency, capacity building for the network’s members, research and policy advocacy, monitoring, learning and evaluation and member engagement, networking and communication.