Malawi Launches GCRF funded Agricultural and Food Systems Resilience Project

The Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) in partnership with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the University of Leeds launched the Agricultural and Food Systems Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy (AFRICAP) project funded by the United Kingdom’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) on the 12th July 2018 at Bingu International Conference Centre, in Lilongwe, Malawi. The meeting was attended by 54 participants representing relevant government departments, non-government organizations, farmer organizations, universities, researchers, civil society organizations among others. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the GCRF AFRICAP project to stakeholders in Malawi and build a pool of partners to work with at national level.

The GCRF-AFRICAP is an £8m (7.7bn MWK) program led by the University of Leeds, a leading international university in the north of England, in partnership with FANRPAN, a pan African multi-stakeholder policy network whose regional secretariat is based in Pretoria, South Africa. The program is focused on generating evidence-based policy to transform agriculture and food systems in Africa with a view of identifying key steps towards a more resilient food system for 2050. AFRICAP also aims at improving productivity of farming systems, and their resilience to shocks emanating from climate change impacts and it links to ongoing projects between Leeds and Malawi assessing likely climate futures. Research will be conducted in selected African countries including Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia and the UK, thus enabling the project to provide a multi-country synthesis and lessons.

The meeting facilitated by CISANET deliberated on how the project should work with key stakeholders in the development of sustainable, productive, climate smart agricultural systems to meet food security and economic development needs. Discussions also centred on assessing how food, agriculture and natural resources policies can be developed so that they support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Mr Chesterman Kumwenda from the Malawi Food, Agriculture Organisation (FAO) office presented a update on Malawi’s progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). He welcomed the AFRICAP project and highlighted the need for the team to link up with on-going activities in the country.

Professor Andrew Dougill from the University of Leeds, speaking at the meeting, highlighted that AFRICAP will work with key stakeholders to design climate-smart scenarios and agree development pathways to guide national policy and its implementation and it will involve continued support for ongoing conservation agriculture field trial studies at Chitedze Agricultural Research Station through the Department of Agricultural Research Services. On farm trials will also be supported starting in Nkhotakota and Balaka districts.

Participants were interested in knowing the role that already existing research will play in the project, and how the research created from AFRICAP will be communicated. Furthermore, they recommended the inclusion of feed security for livestock and the need to look at challenges of deforestation and how those could be incorporated into the modelling process.

A follow up scenario planning workshop is scheduled for November 2018.

As FANRPAN’s node host in Malawi, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) will coordinate program activities, including providing support to the Department of Agricultural Research Services to ensure the successful implementation of ongoing field trials at Chitedze Agricultural Research Station; and the administration of a bursary scheme for African and UK scholars to attend bespoke research training courses. CISANET will partner the department to develop and run applied research projects and will jointly generate and disseminate research outputs through joint research-policy forums.

Find out more about GCRF AFRICAP in Malawi.