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«REPORT BOAT-Natural Resources College, Malawi Workshop MANAGING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Improving agricultural management by training and extension ...»

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BOAT-Natural Resources College, Malawi Workshop


Improving agricultural management by training and extension

NRC, LILONGWE, 30thJuly - 3rd August 2012


BOAT facilitators David Wendover and John Wibberley arrived in Lilongwe at mid-day on Thursday July

26th. Although we travelled to London together by train, David flew on Kenya Airways via Nairobi and Lusaka since he was to go to Tanzania for a BOAT assignment in Tengeru afterwards, and John flew on South African Airways via Johannesburg since he was to go on subsequent assignments in Pietermaritzburg, RSA. David was billeted with Lecturer in Environmental Management Principal (‘Prince’) Mdholo, and John was billeted with Acting NRC Principal Mrs Jean Mtethiwa (previously V-P), her husband Austin (Senior Lecturer in Water Management at Bunda College) and their family.

We met Natural Resources College (NRC) staff at an end-of-term examination review meeting and were struck by their friendly camaraderie together, and were given a great welcome. On the morning of July 27th, we attended a briefing meeting with the Management team of NRC:- Mrs Jean Mtethiwa (Acting Principal), Mr Kingsley Mikwamba (Head of Agriculture), Mrs Naomi Mkandawire (Head of Natural Resources), Mr Mohammed Hanif (Director of Business & Finance), Mr Maxwell Mbweza (Registrar), Mr James Sangara (Internal Auditor). BOAT was thanked for its training within the UK as a result of which the NRC College Farm was improved.

The Natural Resources College (NRC) Lilongwe The NRC is sited on a superb campus, with excellent buildings and facilities. The NRC has a Board of Trustees with 10 members under the Chairmanship of Dr Beatrice Mtinuni of Bunda College. It reports to the Minister of Agriculture. NRC’s main purpose is training of diplomates as ‘technicians’. However, from September 2012 – owing to a perceived gap in the market - a new degree in Food Technology is to be launched as NRC’s first degree programme, not only with a foundation degree programme but also for holders of the existing NRC diploma in Food & Nutrition.

Although originally founded and opened by President Kamuzu Hastings Banda in 1986 with new buildings on the site of Colby College, NRC was privatised around 1991. Moves to merge it with Bunda College and Chitedze Research Station as LUANAR (Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources) have been put into abeyance by the new Malawi government since April 2012. However, Bunda College had already been disconnected from the University of Malawi to form the beginnings of the University of Lilongwe.

NRC income is derived approximately as follows:- 75% students’ fees; 15% College Farm; 5% Hiring out income (for which there is more scope); 3% from government; 2% other sources (such as private corporate sponsorship, renting out of houses and transport facilities). Overall turnover is around 800 million kwacha (almost 2 million pounds sterling since the recent devaluation of Malawi currency).

The permanent NRC staff is 120, of whom 40 are trainers and 80 are support staff. They hire in some 25 further trainers on a demand-led basis. They run blocked courses in modules so that some students can 2 attend as short courses. The NRC outsources management of their cafeteria, campus security and landscaping (with splendidly maintained grounds resulting).

Overall, NRC has 1500 students and operates two semesters per year:- February – June, and September – December. Students are recruited on a semester basis with some 300 new students joining each semester. These are almost 100% Malawians. Sensibly, courses are cost centres, not departments.

The fee structure for students equates now (post devaluation of the kwacha) to US $1,000 per semester some 45% of this for tuition and the balance of some 55% for boarding. The College campus can accommodate 600 students. The rest only pay tuition fees and find their own accommodation nearby or stay with their families.

The NRC College Farm The NRC College Farm is now run by Acting Farm Manager Ruth Memory Mphepo Matimati (very recently appointed) + 21 staff and further seasonal workers. There are 2 tractors (a Massey Ferguson 275 and a very recently government donated Sonalika DI60) plus disc ploughs, scalloped disc cultivators and trailers, but no seed drill since planting is by hand (heel/toe). The farm is a separate cost centre from the College, contributing some 15% of NRC overall income. It consists of 60 ha, including 10 ha devoted to livestock, 40 ha cultivated for crops of maize, soyabeans and sweet beans, plus a separate additional 38ha crop training area for teaching purposes.

Livestock consist of:- poultry (chickens and a few guinea fowls), rabbits, fish (Tilapia usually, with fingerlings obtained from Mchinji; 2 fishponds empty at present), pigs (I boar + 12 sows – with piglets sold for breeding at 3 months), goats(11), sheep (8 Dorpers), dairy (6 Friesians + 30 cross-breds and 1 Friesian bull) and beef cattle (40 Brahman cross Malawi Zebu cows + 1 Brahman bull) and associated calves and followers (with castrated bull calves kept to fattening). Some 2,200 layers produce 60 trays (30/tray) of eggs per day and there is priority to expand to 10,000 birds plus 12,000 broilers. Eggs are sold along with farm-produced dairy items, vegetables and fruits through the NRC Farm Shop (a new ‘Farm Market’ is being built at present); they also dress some chickens for the hotel trade.

A further 187ha consists of the beautiful College Campus, Forest and extensive Staff Housing area.

Weekend Field Visit We travelled with Kingsley Mikwamba, Prince Mdholo and Moses Kamwanda (driver) to Salima and Lake Malawi, taking lunch at Kambiri Lodge and viewing recent fish catches (with notably small Chambo (Tilapia). We proceeded to Nyika Crocodile Farm, noting a tin of ‘crocodile paté in port wine’ in the gatehouse! Some 15,000 crocodiles are raised to 3-4 years of age for skins for handbags etc. The oldest breeding male we saw was 52 years, and another 47. They are fed on minced chicks, chickens and crocodile meat, injected if sick, treated for coccidiosis in their feed, and have their teeth cut after stunning on the neck at around 3 years old to stop them bruising each others’ skins. This is not done earlier because the teeth regenerate. Adjacent are 6 fishponds of Tilapia also fed to crocodiles; it was unclear to what extent they achieve single sex populations to increase fish growth rates. They are killed on site by stunning, skinned and salted for 7 days then rolled and placed into chilled storage before being exported wet and salted to Germany, France, Italy and the USA since there is no tannery in Malawi now. Breeding stock are mated in July and females lay some 30-50 eggs each into the sand. Two staff enter the pens and one chase the crocs into their water ponds while the other searches the sand and 3 recovers these eggs to take to the incubator for 90 days. They prefer males to females since they grow faster and bigger. The farm catches dangerous crocodiles in rivers and keeps these in a separate pond.

‘The Village’ Mandevu (= ‘Bearded One’ after its owner Dr Leonard Kalindekafe). He is Malawi’s Director of the Geological Survey Department at the Ministry of Energy & Mines and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Mining, Minerals and Metals – which is based in Canada but with meetings in Geneva. Now aged 48, he obtained his PhD from the University of Dundee, Scotland and admires all things Scottish. He was among the first intake of students at the famous Kamuzu Academy, where his wife Meya also attended later. He confirmed to us that niobium (valuable steel additive) had been found recently near Kasungu, and there may be oil in Lake Malawi’s bed. We were genially hosted by Leonard and his wife Meya, who is a Senior Lecturer and Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist based at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Zomba. ‘The Village’ Mandevu is between Liwonde and Zomba and was our overnight stay. The Kalindekafes moved here five years ago and established the restaurant/bar together with ‘joined rondavel’ style accommodation, plus a band of local musicians. It is an ecotourism centre. Notably, they set up as their joint ‘hobby’ MIFAC (Mandevu Integrated Farming & Aquaculture Centre) – currently covering some 40 ha of land. ‘Make money with your heart’ they said of their passion to develop and to encourage others to emulate this inspiring venture. Making compost from manures is the foundation of the system’s fertility. Livestock include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry (hens and guinea fowls), rabbits, pigeons. They employ over 100 local people in the rainy season, but not children. They raise many species of tree seedlings in their nursery (including Malawi’s national tree Mbawa = Khaya nyassica mahogany) using the labour of local elderly women to fill the pots. Some of these are for poles to construct simple local buildings, and for fuelwood. With USAID help, they have already dug large 9 fishponds using local hand labour, put in their own bridge at 5% of a quoted consultant’s fee, and have set up large concrete ponds with Tilapia (Chambo) to raise fingerlings to sell to small farmers (at 25k) with teaching on how to keep them, in order to upgrade incomes and nutrition in the surrounding area. Breeding is by a 1:2 ratio of males to females, and they are fed with bags of manure tied into the corner of ponds and renewed every 2-3 months. The largest pond is named Lake Lucy after their youngest daughter (12) and his late mother, as also is a Maize Mill set up not only for their own purposes but also to help the local community. Students come for training already, and it is their ambition to make it a full Training Centre for groups of 50 or so at a time, with a special building to cost around US$180,000. They hope others will emulate their integrated system elsewhere for Malawi’s benefit. An Anglican, Leonard said of his philosophy, ‘first help the poor and then go to church’.

The Workshop: Managing Sustainable Development The workshop was held in the Conference Room behind the Library at NRC from July 30th to August 3rd.

Entitled ‘Managing Sustainable Development: improving agricultural management by training and extension’, there were 29 participants – 8 females and 21 males, ranging in age from about 25 to 60, with an average age around 40 (see Appendix IV). A manual was prepared containing welcome letters from both NRC and BOAT, plus notes of the topics covered during the 5 days. As well as illustrated presentations with comments, inputs from delegates’ particular experiences, questions and discussion, there was a field visit around the NRC Farm and Training ground, buzz groups for discussion, a 4 participatory ‘Development Game’ which became very lively, and ample time for interaction during lunchtimes and breaks. The Timetable is shown in Appendix III.

At the outset, expectations were sought, management issues facing participants in their work were identified, workshop rules proposed and agreed (no mobile ‘phones; keep time; one person to speak at a time; listen to one another; ‘soberness’), and group officers appointed: President (John Banda), V-P (Catherine Chabvuta), chaplain (Ruth Matimati) and timekeeper (Christopher Katema). Attendance was good and consistent for the great majority of participants and the group integrated well with each other.

The timetable largely went as published with minor adjustments, including ‘towards power’ cuts.

Expectations Learning on Rural Extension; Training strategies and techniques; re-afforestation; soil management and livestock management; GM and organic crops; Sustainable development; sustainable agriculture and environmental protection; strategic management skills (we advised: ‘including use time to learn from each other’); effective leadership; Farmer-controlled businesses; how to manage extension and training;

strategic planning skills; proposal writing; improving agricultural livelihoods; sustainable management of farmer training institutions.

Action Plan Covenant As the final session of the workshop, participants were asked to answer three questions as follows: 1. What have you learned/been reminded of in this workshop? (Note three key aspects, ideas, concepts or practices)  2. With whom will you share this? (Be specific and name people/organisations)  3. What will YOU do in the next 6 months with the resources you control or influence? (Be specific; three things; be realistic) The answers to these questions were extremely varied, reflecting the broad range of interests and skillsets represented in the workshop and the wide range of subjects covered. The detailed responses are found in Appendix 1.

Workshop Evaluation The Evaluation Questionnaire was developed jointly with the NRC and details of the responses are found in Appendix II.

In general, the workshop venue, dates, course length and daily schedule were very satisfactory, although a number of respondents felt that the workshop was too short and some of the topics were rushed. The number of participants was about right. Because the workshop was held in a semester break, NRC staff were able to attend.

There were a number of complaints regarding the accommodation where electricity and water supply had been a problem, as well as meals which were not always on time, rather monotonous and with too much meat and insufficient fresh fruit and vegetables. However, as one participant pointed out, the workshop was rather cheap to attend.

The workshop objectives were clear to most people, and were well met. The workshop format was considered satisfactory. The Workshop Handbook was only distributed on the final day to ensure maximum participation and note taking during presentations so the question was irrelevant.

5 Most participants thought the workshop covered the topics that they expected, although a number commented that some key subjects were too rushed and not covered in sufficient detail and that there was insufficient opportunity for practical sessions. A number of diverse subjects were mentioned, reflecting the widely varied backgrounds of participants. However, all the subjects covered were deemed to be relevant to participant’s work and the teaching hours allocated to subjects was considered appropriate.

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