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Exchange visits vital for learning, says an environmental officer

Written by  Grace Kapatuka
A farmer from Machinga demonstrating how a honey presser works - Pic by Grace Kapatuka A farmer from Machinga demonstrating how a honey presser works - Pic by Grace Kapatuka

Ntcheu, September 12, 2018: The Environmental District Officer (EDO) for Ntcheu, Hellen Nyirenda says exchange visits for farmers are a vital tool for learning and sharing of best practices.

Nyirenda made the remarks in Zomba during a three-day learning visit for farmers from Ntcheu and Nkhata Bay to Machinga and Zomba of projects being implemented under Climate proofing and Adapt plan.

The projects are funded by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
Nyirenda said such learning visits need to be encouraged, saying it is the only way the farmers net-work and share experiences from their respective places.

“These trips are important because farmers have the opportunity to get first-hand information from fellow farmers that are on the ground.

I am happy that farmers from Ntcheu and Nkhata Bay have seen and heard for themselves the approaches being applied by farmers from Zomba and Machinga for their projects to be successful,” she said.

According to Nyirenda, through learning visits, farmers are exposed to new ideas and have the opportunity to meet and hear the challenges others are facing and how they deal with them.

UNDP through GEF is implementing Adapt Plan Project in Ntcheu, Zomba and Nkhata Bay whose main objective is to address challenges of climate change.

The project also aims at establishing and demonstrating the institutional framework required to mainstream climate-resilience and adaptation into development planning at local and national levels.

In Ntcheu, the Adapt Plan Project is being implemented in three traditional authorities of Ganya, Mpando and Masasa where, through an integrated water system which pumps water with the help of solar system, communities access water for fish farming, household use and irrigation.

Communities also engage in Village Savings and Loan activity which has resulted to improvement in financial inclusion, household business outcomes and women empowerment, according to one of the beneficiaries of the project, Memory Chikumbi.

One of the farmers from Ntcheu, Tiyamike Elisa from Yesaya Scheme thanked the organisers for the learning visit which she said had given them hope that it is possible to mitigate the impact of climate change if people work hard.

“What we have seen in Machinga and Zomba is an encouragement to us, that everything is achievable if we work hard. I am sure that when we go back, we will be able to apply what we have learnt from friends from these two districts,” said Elisa.

Samson Nyirenda, a pig farmer from Nkhata Bay said he was amazed with the sense of ownership displayed by the people of Zomba and Machinga over projects.

“We are implementing similar projects but ours are not as successful as what we have seen here. The sense of ownership lacks in us, which contributes to our failure,” he observed.

He added, “We have also learnt that chiefs and communities work together in the implementation of the projects. This coordination is what is lacking in us as we work in isolation without involving our local leaders like chiefs.

“This should be a lesson to farmers from Ntcheu and Nkhata Bay.”

During the tour, farmers from the two districts (Nkhata Bay and Ntcheu) were taken to Namosi A and B schemes in Machinga and Sunuzi Scheme in Zomba among other places. They were taken through fish farming technologies, bee keeping and agricultural activities taking place in the schemes.

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