Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) has been cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in the development, expansion and implementation of the Farmers’ Club program. This unique effort has helped to reduce hunger and malnutrition, expand farm productivity, and increase farm income. The overall objective of the Farmers’ Clubs program is to train and organize smallholder farmers in rural areas to create community structures which will assist them to maximize their returns on labor investment and other inputs and ultimately improve their living conditions. The Farmers’ Clubs have also been established as a wider forum of learning and sharing of farming experiences, benefiting thousands from family members and neighbors of the participating farmers to Government extension staff and lead farmers.
The promotion of collaborative processing that adds value, such as extracting milk from soy, increases the range of available food to farmers while also providing them with a greater source of income. Farmers associations are established to strengthen the clubs’ transition into collective and self-running entities that are sustainable beyond the program period.
From the initial 12.000 farmers which the program started way back in 2006, over 69.000 farmers organized in clubs of 30- 50 members have been trained over the years. The trainings offered emphasize on food security, soil and water conservation and use of improved plant varieties as well as integrated pest management techniques and crop rotation to avoid soil depletion. Access to water is key to improving Malawi’s agricultural sector. As such, the program has been focusing on increasing water availability and also on conserving its usage, as the effects of global warming and drought are ever present threats to the food security of the smallholder farmers.
Currently, the program is working with 3.000 farmers in Thyolo and Mzimba who are growing Macadamia Nuts under a Macadamia Nuts Value Chain and Enhancement project with the Public Private Sector as well as reaching out to 2400 farmers in Chiradzulu and 10250 farmers in Dowa through cooperatives.