In Malawi, road transport plays an important role not only in facilitating the mobility of agricultural produce to markets but also enhancing interaction among farmers from different areas, as well as opening up new areas to economic focus.
However, lack of access to good roads has been one of the major challenges that have affected farming business for most smallholder farmers in the country.
As such, the Agricultural Sector Wide Approach Support Project II (ASWAp-SP II) has been supporting road improvement interventions in twelve project’s implementation districts in the country.
Ntchisi is one of the districts in the country where ASWAp-SP II is rehabilitating and upgrading some ten unpaved roads with the longest road being ten kilometers. Additionally, the Ng’ombe-Nyalavu road which is about six kilometers will be tarmacked.
Isaac Mdindo is Director of Public Works in the district and he has hailed ASWAp-SP II for the timely intervention which he said will change the face of Ntchisi in as far as improved road network is concerned. He said the good roads will not only facilitate the smoother movement of farm produce to markets, but will also ensure timely delivery of farm inputs to farmers which will eventually improve agricultural productivity.
“Poor road conditions have always affected our farmers in accessing markets for their farm produce as most of these roads are impassable during rainy season. Now that this project is improving the roads, surely more farmers will join the farming business”, Mdindo explained.
He added that the improved roads will also help to improve service delivery in education, health and other crucial sectors of the economy.
Chinipha Vula is a farmer from Nzoma Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Kalumo in Ntchisi district. He is the Chairperson for Chikhwakhwa-Mkwambisi seven kilometer road rehabilitation program.
Vula said Chikhwakhwa-Mkwambisi road which is at an advanced stage, once completed, will not only benefit farmers and people within the vicinity but Malawi as a whole as agricultural produce from all over places will easily reach designated markets within and outside the district.
“We produce a lot of Irish potatoes here, but we usually make huge losses as our produce fail to reach markets due to poor roads. As such most of the time, we sell them at giveaway prices that do not compensate our capital. I am proud to mention that the road will make farmers, cooperatives and model villages more visible”. Vula said.
ASWAp-SP II also emphasizes on providing disposable income through jobs to the farmers in the surrounding local communities.
Doreen Nakalani from Mkwai village, T/A Kalumo is one of the women who have taken part in the rehabilitation works.
She said income from the work has enabled her to afford farm inputs and some basic needs such as food and groceries for her family.
Her budgeting was also shared by Watson Tawina who was among farmers rehabilitating Chikwakwa-Mkwambisi road.
“I bought maize seed and fertilizers which I applied to my field. I hope to harvest bumper yield this year. The road project has given me income that I have used to support my farming activities”, said Watson Tawina.
ASWAp-SP II seeks to develop a resilient and diversified agriculture sector through improved productivity, improved market access infrastructure, adoption of technologies, restoration of soil fertility, resilience and diversified agricultural systems among others.