cisanet-logoLast week representatives from Kusamala attended the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) National Conference on the Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Malawi at the Crossroads Hotel. Over a day and a half, various lecturers, mainly from Bunda College, discussed Malawi’s past and current agricultural policies from various perspectives. While the Farm Input Subsidy Program played a large role, the conference addressed a number of issues.

The lectures ranged from a history of agricultural policy to livestock policy and developing agricultural markets. The lecturers presented a variety of interesting recommendations, with repeating themes being the need to harmonize the national policy with the sector approaches and the presidential initiatives; the need to develop an agricultural policy alternative to FISP; and the need for more robust research and extension services.

Of particular interest to Kusamala with our upcoming projects promoting climate smart agriculture, Dr. David Mkwambisi from Bunda College presented a talk titled, “Climate Change and Agricultural Development in Malawi – institutions, narratives and policies.” His presentation covered a number of interesting issues but he particularly focused on the need to “bring culture back to agriculture.” While acknowledging the role of technology and improved varieties, Dr. Mkwambisi stressed the importance of traditional practices, many of which are already well adapted to Malawi’s climate extremes including drought, flood, and temperature variations.

Overall, the conference provided an interesting learning platform and a space for agricultural professionals and academics to share and expand upon their ideas. We at Kusamala came out of it with some useful information and new contacts!