FANRPAN Annual High Level Regional Food Security Policy Dialogue 2010

Two Minutes with: Dr David Kamchacha, FANRPAN

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1 September 2010
Zukiswa Zimela
Source: 
Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa Terraviva

Dr Kamchacha is FANRPAN’s Director of Inputs and Output Markets. His work is focused on policies that affect smallholder farmers’ access to such things as seed and fertiliser. He also researches policies that affect farmers’ efforts to sell their produce.

What exactly does your research involve?

Some of the work that we have done is looking at the input subsidy in Malawi over the last four years, to look at how is this policy implemented and how it is impacting on food security and livelihoods. We are also looking at where there are issues that can be improved on.

What we are doing is conducting action research and generate evidence on the ground to say what is working and what is not working and then that evidence we bring that evidence to it on the table for dialogue, to inform the policy makers in terms of what direction they can go based on what is on the ground.

What are some of the impacts that you have seen?

One of the noticeable impacts that we have seen is the government making modifications to the implementation of the programme in the first year of the subsidy.

We have seen government looking at investing more in extension services so that farmers are able to get information that they need to build their capacities. For example, briefing the farmer on how to produce manure or on how to complement the inorganic fertiliser so that they improve their soil fertility.

What are some of the benefits that you have you seen on the ground with the farmers?

Now that farmers have food, they are no longer spending so much time looking for basic sustenance. Now they are now involved with other development activities.

During the time of hunger in Malawi, even livestock numbers went down because farmers were selling their goats to get money to pay for food or school fees. Now that they have food and a surplus, the population of livestock is growing. The price of livestock has also gone up because farmers are not desperate to sell their goats.

We have seen a number of economic activities coming back in the rural areas. There used to be what they call agriculture trade fairs, but in the days of hunger that had. Now that has come back.

You see now farmers are coming to show that they have produced.

That has had an impact on the farmers’ livelihood.

What are some of the development aspects that farmers now become involved in?

We have seen the farmers being involved in building roads in the rural areas but also because there has been a surplus there has been the formation of trade associations in order to have bargaining power in accessing the output markets. We have the Green Traders Association in Malawi that has benefited from the surpluses which they are now exporting out the area, that is affecting the farmer on the ground.

Why are you attending the Regional Policy Dialogue?

We are here to share results of research and the get feedback from the stakeholders on where to improve and so that in the next year as we commence our research we take all of the things that are coming from the stakeholders to help to improve policy.