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Project aiming to reduce post-harvest losses launched in Malawi

“Storage technologies provided by the Effective Grain Storage for Sustainable Livelihoods of African Farmers Project offer effective grain protection against pest and moisture,” said Honorable Jermoth Ulemu Chilapondwa, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi, during the launch of the project on 26 September 2012 in Lilongwe, Malawi. “It will go a long way in complimenting the government’s efforts in fighting post-harvest grain losses,” he added.

As a major crop in Malawi, maize provides food and income to over 300 million resource-poor smallholder farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa. However, safe grain storage has presented a big challenge to the farmers. High post-harvest losses (up to 30 %) have made food security difficult to achieve at the household level despite increased production following government initiatives such as the Farm Input Subsidy Program. Jones Govereh, CIMMYT policy economist, noted that the traditional granaries have failed to protect farmers’ maize harvests against the two most destructive post-harvest insect pests in the region, maize weevils and larger grain borers. The Effective Grain Storage for Sustainable Livelihoods of African Farmers Project (EGSP-II), building on the successes of the previous phase (2008-2012), aims to change the situation. The objective of EGSP-II (2012-2016) is to improve food security and reduce vulnerability through the fabrication, dissemination, and distribution of 4,000 metal silos and 24,000 super grain bags among smallholder farmers in Malawi.

The project is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and has three components: research, promotion, and policy advocacy for metal silos and super grain bag technologies. They are geared towards successful development of a well-functioning and sustainable input chain to provide small-scale maize producers with effective storage technologies in areas affected by high post-harvest losses. The project is fully supported by the government of Malawi. According to Honorable Chilapondwa, “The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security will endeavor to continuously assess the metal silos through the Department of Agricultural Research Services which has been tasked to do the research component, while the Department of Crop Development will be disseminating and promoting the technologies. I realize that policy consideration is key in successful implementation of the project. Bunda College has been mandated to address the issues and therefore take a leading role.”

The meeting allowed CIMMYT scientists, partners, and collaborators in Malawi to exchange ideas, information, and research outputs; raise awareness on promotion and dissemination of effective grain storage technologies; and consult stakeholders on policy environment and market issues for effective implementation of EGSP-II.