CIP Board of Trustees visit Malawi and celebrate 9 years of CIP in Malawi improving the livelihoods of small holder farmers

Dr Paul Demo, Senior Country Liaison Scientist was CIPs first staff member in Malawi in 2006 and he has been the driving force behind the Malawi program ever since. Paul was thrilled to have the Board of Trustees visit Malawi: “it was a pleasure and an honor to host the CIP Board of Trustees here in Malawi. We have had the pleasure of inviting them to this beautiful country and sharing with them our achievements here in Malawi.”

It was a week-long event which began with a field trip to visit CIP potato and sweetpotato projects in Dedza. The participants got to see first hand the impact of CIPs work on smallholder farmers and to share a conversation with CIPs beneficiaries and partners.

The group visited Bembeke Research sub-station to see CIPs Irish Aid funded potato project at work. The group enjoyed a briefing from Dr Demo on the potato portfolio in Malawi and then toured the facilities including the seed potato store. In Malawi, CIP works very closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and staff from the Department of Agricultural Research Services were on hand throughout the day to talk about the CIP and DAS collaboration and partnership.

Next stop was a visit to KADUDE Potato Framers Group where the group received a lively reception of singing and dancing from project members. Here the BoT enjoyed talking with project beneficiates and local potato farmers about their work with CIP. They also toured the diffused light seed potato store which had been set up in the community and was allowing farmers to have some control over when they would take potato and seed to market.

Next up was a visit to a farmers group who were involved in OFSP vine multiplication and production. The group had cooked up a dazzling array of OFSP dishes and welcomed the group to taste test the mouthwatering collection.

The field trip was a great start to the week and gave the board a great opportunity to see CIP staff in action; hear directly from beneficiaries about their participation in CIP projects and to see first hand how CIP works hand in hand with a range of organisations to deliver our programs.

After a week of meetings, the meeting ended with a great celebration of the official inauguration of the CIP Malawi offices in Lilongwe. The event was attended by a range of donors, partners and supporters from Malawi.

Dr Paul Demo welcomed everyone with a short reflection on his time with CIP in Malawi: “As Senior Country Liaison Scientist for CIP Malawi I am pleased to welcome you to our offices today to celebrate with us and our partners our achievements in improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Malawi. I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to work with CIP for the last 12 years and to work here in Malawi for the last 9 years and as I look around today I see many people here who I am proud to work alongside and who I am happy I can call my friends and colleagues”

CIP Board Chair Dr Rodney Cooke and CIP Director General Dr Barbara Wells also welcomed guests and took a moment to reflect on their experiences over the last week and their vision for a bright future for CIP in Malawi.

CIP DG Barbara Wells stated: “As the Director General of CIP, I am very proud to see and hear all that has been achieved in Malawi in partnership with government and our partners and donors. Over the last week I have had the immense pleasure of getting to know our CIP Malawi staff who are passionate and work hard in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and our partners to deliver our programs.

CIP is committed to working with our partners to scale-up use of potato and sweetpoato varieties through accelerated breeding, improved multiplication techniques, diversified value chain development, and evidence-based policies. We are committed to the continued establishment of strategic partnerships for going to scale and will accompany this process with strategic research to assess cost-effectiveness, pro-poor focus, and gender inclusiveness.”

The event was also attended by special guest speaker Honorable Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Mrs. Erica Maganga, Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development. The Honorable Minister shared these words: “I am pleased to inform you all that my Ministry has a history of working closely with the International Potato Center in our shared goal of improving the lives of smallholder farmers in Malawi.

As Minister of Agriculture I am very proud to see and hear about all that we have achieved together, working hand in hand to bring skills, technology, training for potato and sweetpotato to farming communities across the country. Over the 9 years CIP has been in Malawi, we have developed strong working relationships that have led to making remarkable achievements. I thank my staff here in Malawi who work tirelessly with the farming communities across Malawi and I recognize and give thanks to CIP for your continued commitment to working in Malawi and working in partnership with my Ministry.

This month, we celebrate CIP-Malawi having occupied these offices for exactly one year. You would therefore not look for any other opportune time than when the CIP Board Chairman, CIP Director General and the entire CIP Board of Trustees members have come to witness the official opening of these offices.”

CIP Board of Trustees visit Dedza, the potato growing region of Malawi to visit CIP projects: