Farmers in Rumphi District have commended government for the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach for improved food security and livelihoods in their communities.
The farmers made the commendation during a tour organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Scaling-Up the Use of Modernised Climate Information and Early Warning Systems (M-CLIMES) Project to appreciate how PICSA has transformed their lives.
PICSA is an approach that seeks to build resilience at the farm level by supporting decision-making through the integration of information on location-specific climate, crops, livestock, and livelihoods.
Government of Malawi, with the support from UNDP secured funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to undertake the M-CLIMES project which aims at scaling-up the use of modernized early warning systems (EWS) and climate information in 21 districts.
The project is being implemented by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), in collaboration with the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), Department of Water Resources (DWR), Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES), Department of Fisheries (DoF), and the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM).
Speaking in Rumphi, one of the beneficiaries, lead farmer Winston Kanyenda from Thepwera Village Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwankhunikira said PICSA approach emphasizes practical hands-on methods that can easily be understood and utilized by farmers.
He said that the PICSA training has strengthened communities’ capacities for use of early warning systems and climate information in preparedness for response to climate related disasters.
“The training I underwent has made me more confident in planning and decision making about farming and livelihood enterprises. I now see farming as more of a business, and I often consult my fellow farmers on best practices,” said Kanyenda.
He said that from 2019, his family is now able to harvest about 50 bags weighing 90 kg each while previously; they used to harvest about 18 bags weighing 90 kg each on the same piece of land.
He said: “I have managed to purchase two goats, able to support my grandchild with school fees at Domasi Teachers’ Training College and soon will roof my newly built house.”
Another beneficiary, Edwin Nyirenda from Mwamubiliri Village said that what he harvests takes him through to the next farming season and that he is able to sell some of his produce to address needs at his household.
“PICSA has been an eye opener, I have managed to purchase two goats and renovate my house,” said Nyirenda.
He said that through PICSA trainings, he has been able to practice crop diversification where he also discovered air potatoes, a tuber rich in vitamin A.
On his part, M-CLIMES National Project Coordinator, Ted Nyekanyeka said the PICSA approach is proving to be a powerful extension approach empowering farmers to make informed farming decisions in the face of erratic weather and climatic conditions and climate change.
Nyekanyeka said farmers who are participating in PICSA are reporting positive outcomes especially on improved food security and better climate adaptation practices.
“M-CLIMEs will continue to support refresher trainings in all targeted 14 districts where over 500,000 farmers of which 60 percent are women; have been trained on the approach,” he said.
PICSA is led by the University of Reading (UoR) based in the UK, and has been supported by the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and in Malawi; it is being implemented by NASFAM and the Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES) in Rumphi, Karonga, Nkhata-Bay, Salima, Ntchisi, Dowa, Lilongwe, Dedza, Ntcheu, Zomba, Chiradzulu, Phalombe, Chikwawa and Mzimba Districts.