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Secretary for Agriculture Dr Jeffrey Luhanga opening the meeting above and participants below

field visit to Lilongwe Maize and Salima Red sorghum IPTAs below





Compiled by

Agnes Mgomezulu & Gilbert Malota

1.0 Introduction

In 2012/2013 agricultural season, project activities started with a planning meeting involving the Steering Committee members, comprising different stakeholders in sorghum and maize value chains. Through this meeting participants shared experiences, and planned for the 2013/ 14 agricultural season.

1.1 Annual Review Meeting

The PSTAD Focal Persons organized an annual review meeting in September, 2012. This review meeting was organized to achieve the following objectives:

  •  To review Implementation of project activities for 20123;
  • To plan for 2013/14 project activities and budget; 
  •  To encourage sharing of information

One issue that came out clearly at meeting was the need to scale out IPTA numbers and farmers participating in the program. In 2012/2013 agricultural season, the Steering Committee members selected Balaka District (red sorghum) and Dowa district (maize) to participate in the project activities. The two sites were selected based on the following reasons:

  • In Dowa farmers had been organized on many occasions but lacked support. Dowa is a catchment area for World Vision, who will sustain the program after project phases out.
  • Balaka is in  a rain  shadow  area similar to Salima and an opportunity for bulk crop through the Presidential Initiative.           

Participants at the annual review meeting

2.0 Activities implemented

2.1 Consultative/planning meetings with partners at local level.

The PSTAD focal person conducted sensitization meetings to the new IPTAs (Dowa District for open pollinated maize variety and Balaka District for red sorghum) on 23rd and 30th November, 2012 respectively.  Meeting covered the overview of PSTAD, stakeholders involved in the project and farmers selection criteria. Each new site was to select 100 farming households. In the 2012/2014 agricultural seasons, there were a total of 600 farmers (427m 173w) participating in the program. Each commodity had 300 farmers.

2.2 Input Distribution

600 farmers benefited inputs (seed and fertilizers).  In the 1st year, red sorghum seed is sponsored by Chibuku Brewery Company under contract farming while PSTAD project supports with fertilizers. In maize IPTA, PSTAD project sponsor  both maize seed and fertilizers. The seed for both red sorghum and maize is paid back through pass on program. Pass on program, is an arrangement whereby farmers paid back the seed after harvest so that other farmers could plant in the coming season. In the In the following agricultural season, the project provides only fertilizers to the farmers.

2.3 Staff and farmer training

Training was conducted by scientists from Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS)  (Chitedze and Chitala research stations).  In turn, the staff trained farmers. This was aimed at imparting the rightful knowledge and skills to both staff and farmers involved in the project.

2.4 Planting

Most farmers planted with first planting rains in December except few areas where rainfall delayed. This was possible because they received seed on time. The germination was good and was above 80 % for both maize and red sorghum. Red Sorghum Yield in IPTA was 2107 kg/ha compared to 1632 kg/ha outside IPTAs. OPV maize in IPTA was 4138 Kg/ha compared to maize 3124 Kg/ha outside the IPTAs

2.5 Supervisory supporting visits

The focal persons and ICRA alumnus carried out one technical support visit to IPTA sites from 18th to 22nd March, 2013. The visit revealed that most farmers are following the recommended management practices of growing maize and sorghum and  the crop stands were promising.



One of the support visits to sites project implementing the 

2.6 Field days

There have been local field days organized by agricultural extension officers in collaboration with stakeholders to publicize the two commodities. Based on crop stand, many farmers expressed interest to follow the recommended management practice in the coming season.

One of the field days on good maize stands in Mpenu Extension Planning Area (EPA)

2.7 eRAILS

The major activity has been infrastructure development on internet connectivity both at Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) (Chitedze Research Station) and Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES). Wiring is complete at both DAES and DARS. Internet connection has done at DAES while DARS has not been connected waiting improvement for internet signal.



                                           Sky Band Experts working on internet connectivity at Dept of Agric. Extension Services (above and below)

The internet connectivity comprises wiring and deployment of internet server. The Skyband  Expert briefed staff members on how the  server works and the benefits the Department of Agricultural Extension Services  will attain.

Participants who attended briefing on server deployment at DAES Conference room

he project conducted training on eRAILS website portal which was attended by 25 participants (21m 4w).  The training was facilitated by the SADC Infomaster Mr Dydimus Zengenene. The participants were RAILS and DONATA Learning Teams.  It was conducted at Livingstonia Beach Hotel in Salima District on 12th April, 2013. The training covered the following: Importance of using the website, role of the learning team members in eRAILS, practicals on handling text and images on the web.

Participants of the eRAILS Training at Livingstonia on 12th April 2013 Beach Hotel, Salima District

Before the training day, the infomaster visited two sites (red sorghum and maize fields) where he interacted with farmers and staff implementing the activity. Mr Zengenene arrived on 9thApril and left on 13th April, 2013.

Mr Dydimus Zengenene with one of the farmers at Mndolera Maize IPTA, Dowa District  

2.9 Writeshops

The workshop was on capturing steps of establishing innovation platforms for technology adoption (IPTAS) in Malawi. The purpose of the write-shop was to document the experiences of establishing IPTAs in DONATA, Produced processes/steps for forming IPTAs based on their experiences.

Some of participants at writeshop from 26- 27 September, 2014

2.10 Dissemination of DONATA activities

Five channels were used  to disseminate activities These were  

  • Radio:  produced and aired 22 radio interviews on state radio  (Malawi Broadcasting Corporation  MBC) and private  (Zodiak Broadcasting ZBS) featuring project successes
  •  Leaflets: 3 leaflets were produced namely Innovative platforms enhance collaboration among stakeholders in Malawi, A Winning Journalist Visits Malawi and food budgeting
  • Press release on household food requirement (food budgeting) on Malawi giant papers (The Nation and Daily Times)
  • Video documentary on progress of PSTAD project activities in Malawi
  • Presented at a workshop for the Malawi Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (MAFAAS) held at Malawi Institute of Management on 9th May, 2013

Title: Establishing Coordinated Pathways For The Dissemination of Improved Technologies and Good Agricultural Practices In Malawi:
 Lessons From The Project On Promotion Of Science And Technology For

Agricultural Development In Africa (PSTAD)


2.11 Achievements

There is improved collaboration and interaction of IPTA members involved in the value chains for both maize and red sorghum crops. Farmers are getting the technical support from different actors of the value chain.   For example, farmers growing red sorghum have signed contract with Chibuku Brewery Company to buy red sorghum.  The project has brought together Chibuku Brewery Company,  Department of Agricultural Research Services and  department of Agricultural Extension Services to work on release of red sorghum variety which on demand by Chibuku Brewery Company.  Reflection sections are providing an opportunity of identifying areas that require support from stakeholders in value chain for each enterprise, The is significant contribution to food and income security to the areas PSTAD project is working due to increased productivity and production.

2. 12 Challenges

Delay to  finale  installing internet connectivity at DAES and DARS. Dry spell in some areas affected the crop at early stage Diseases such as head smut in sorghum started  to appear some fields.  No reliable seed source of red sorghum because is not released.

Scientist Jonny Masangwa  from Chitala Agricultural Research Station holding

Sorghum attached  by  head smut from a farmer’s field in Salima IPTA


Funding straight to operation bank account affected field operation because the money was not accessible  till money was transferred to operating account  (Funding done in November, 2012 and accessed in forth week of January, 2013.

2.13 Conclusion

The project is well implemented in all sites despite dry spell in some areas like Salima and Balaka Districts. The average yields in IPTA sites are higher than non IPTA sites.. The participation of all the stakeholders in the project is quite encouraging.




PSTAD innovative platforms for technology adoption enhance harmony of stakeholders in Malawi

For many years low adoption of technologies has been attributed to poor research-extension linkages and inadequate platforms where stakeholders can share innovations. Thanks to the Promotion of Science and Technology for Agricultural Development in Africa (PSTAD) for coming to Malawi.

PSTAD is the regional project being implemented in 34 African countries including Malawi. The project is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in collaboration with the sub-regional organizations such as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR).

In Malawi, the project is being implemented in Chinguluwe Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Salima, Mpenu EPA in Lilongwe, Ndolera EPA in Dowa and Phalula EPA in Balaka District. Ndolera and Phalula EPAs are benefiting this season (2011/12).

The project is promoting two crops namely red sorghum (Chinguluwe and Phalula EPAs) and open pollinated variety of maize (Mpenu and Ndolera EPAs).  

The overall purpose is to contribute towards achieving food security and poverty alleviation in Africa. Its objective is to build African agricultural research knowledge management capacity and Support the dissemination and adoption of new agricultural technologies.

According to the Director of Agricultural Extension Services Mrs. Stella Kamkwamba the project is helping a lot in increasing technology adoption among the farmers in the implementing EPAs.

“Although the project started late in 2011/2012 agricultural season, the project has been able to implement its planned activities successfully. Apart from implementing its activities well, the project has also brought together different stakeholders in sorghum and maize value chains in what is known as innovative platform for technology adoption (IPTA),” said the Director.

Through these platforms, stakeholders working in the impact sites are empowered to learn from each other, advise each other, and create buffer zones so that technologies that are being implemented in the project areas are replicated outside the project areas.

Apart from sharing experiences, stakeholders learn from each other’s best practices and discuss how they can contribute to the success of the two commodities. The emphasis is how stakeholders in the value chain of the specific commodity can work together to make every stage of value chain in a commodity successful.

PSTAD is also promoting sharing of information among stakeholders through a website Through this website, institutions can create their accounts and be uploading agricultural related information, link or can just access information from other countries globally.

Recently, in November, 2012 stakeholders involved in Chinguluwe and Mpenu IPTAs were trained on how to create an account and upload agricultural related information, link or accessing agricultural information from other countries globally.                                                                                                                                                                                           

Ifidon Ohiomoba is PSTAD Project Manager and last year in May, 2012 he visited some of the PSTAD sites to appreciate the implementation progress. “Although Malawi has started implementing the project late, the progress so far indicates the potential of doing well,” said the Project Manager.

PSTAD Project Manager with farmers and staff during the supervisory field visit in Salima (Malawi)

PSTAD started in 2008 in other countries but Malawi started benefiting from it in 2011. The projected is ending in December this year.                                                                                          


A journalist in Malawi

Malawi is one of the African countries implementing the regional project called Promotion of Science and Technology for Agricultural Development in Africa (PSTAD). This project is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and implemented by 34 countries in Africa, under the

Stella Kankwamba, Director, Dept of Extension Services (DAES)

coordination of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in collaboration with the sub-regional organizations (SARECA, CORAF/WECARD and SADC/FANR). In Malawi, the project is being implemented in Chinguluwe Extension Planning Area in Salima and Mpenu Extension Planning Area in Lilongwe Districts respectively. Its overall purpose is to contribute towards achieving food security and poverty alleviation in Africa. Its objective is to build African agricultural research knowledge management capacity and Support the dissemination and adoption of new and proven agricultural technologies.

Started in 2011/2012 agricultural season, the project has managed to implement its planned activities successfully. It has also brought together different stakeholders in sorghum and maize value chains in what is known as innovative platform for technology adoption (IPTA). Through these platforms, stakeholders share experiences, learn from each other’s best practices and discuss how they can contribute to the success of the two commodities.

For documentation and dissemination of stories of impacts of knowledge management and technology adoption within the framework of the PSTAD (RAILS & DONATA) project. Forum for

Busani (L) and stakeholders arrive at Lilongwe IPTA

Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) engaged the services of Mr. Busani Bafana to Malawi to assist. Mr. Bafana is an award winning Journalist with vast experience in development work. He was also involved in the documentation of the first series of Making things Happen.

The journalist visited a number of institutions and places such as World Vision International, Chibuku Brewery Company, Research, Lilongwe and Salima district Innovative Platform for Technology adoptions (IPTAs), including our beautiful Lake Malawi.

The outcome of his assignment will be featured in the second series of “Making Things Happen” and this series is proposed to feature activities in another set of eight countries including Malawi. These are countries that participate in the Dissemination of New Agricultural Technologies in Africa (DONATA) and Regional Agricultural Information and Learning System (RAILS) activities.
In all places Mr. Bafana visited, partners and participants of Promotion of Science and Technology for Agricultural Development in Africa (PSTAD) project smiled, while farmers sung traditional songs, danced and hugged each other to express their heartfelt happiness as they were welcoming him.
Busani Bafana comes from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Whilst in Malawi he had an audience with several stakeholders, including farmers from both project areas who welcomed him with warm smiles, ululations, traditional dances, and hugs to express their heartfelt gratitude and happiness knowing that their achievement will be shared at international platform by this reknown Journalist

In his words after winding up his 5 days of tour Mr Bafana confidently said, “Basing on what I have seen in the countries toured, Africa has a lot of good agricultural stories which journalists can write. These stories can contribute significantly to increased agricultural productivity and production in Africa”

Interview in progress with stakeholders