Held at SUN ‘N’ SAND Holiday Resort in Mangochi on the 17th -19thOctober, 2012, where Chisomo Kanchacha, Kusamala’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, presented a paper on the impacts of permaculture at the household level.

Chisomo Kamchacha responding to questions

The theme of the symposium was Resilience of agricultural systems through conservation agriculture and was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the National Conservation Agriculture Task Force (NCATF). The symposium attracted a wide range of players in the agriculture sector, which included senior government officials, academia, private sector, non-governmental organizations and individual researchers. The symposium was graced by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Honourable Prof. Peter Mwanza, MP. He officially opened the symposium and wound up by asking the delegates, “What are we doing to make all this information reach the farmer who needs it? Are we just hiding out at the lake and discussing all these paper and end there? We should make it available.”

Interestingly, the information presented by the different players in the conservation agriculture sector was disjointed in regards to the different approaches utilized by different institutions. Considering these operational differences, the National Conservation Agriculture Task Force is working towards developing harmonized guidelines to conversational agriculture.

Quoting Blessings Botha (Irish Aid Representative), “there is a need to start supporting science that builds on the local knowledge.” This paved a way for the permaculture paper presentation, titled “Permaculture Gardening: building resilience, agro-biodiversity and food security among smallholder farmers in central Malawi”. The paper was co- authored by Abigail Conrad of the American University, Department of Anthropology, Austin Dunn of the University of IOWA and Chisomo Kamchacha of Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology who also presented the paper. The presentation concluded by saying “in Malawi the predominate focus is on maize and green revolution technologies which are fiscally and environmentally unsustainable. Therefore, permaculture should be considered and incorporated into development projects, as a comprehensive sustainable non-donor dependent tool for improving health, food and nutrition security and (Greenblott 2012: 1)

Delegates in a group photo

 Action Points:

Guidelines to Conservation Agriculture

Conservation Agriculture to be incorporated to the National Agriculture Policy (still under development)