On 17th June 2017, our SANBio Student Ambassador for Malawi, Kareem Longwe, together with his team visited Tikondwe Freedom Gardens in Dowa district. Tikondwe Freedom Gardens, established in 1982, is an innovative development venture that uses traditional agricultural methods to enhance sustainable food security in rural Malawi.
The visiting team also included students and young scientists from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and Adventists University who work hand in hand with the Student Ambassador. Among other things the team wanted to learn about the products that are produced by Tikondwe Freedom Gardens, how they are processed in terms of value addition and how they are utilised.
According to the Institution Manager, Mr Dan Chinkhuntha, the institution processes many agricultural products into value-added agroproducts. These products include syrup from sugarcane, fish feed, bio fertilizers and pesticides from plant materials, also known as botanical pesticides.
In his explanation he outlined some of the processes that are followed to make particular finished products. For example, bio fertilizer production involves the use of residues from crops, livestock waste and certain fertile tree leaves – the end result is a liquid fertiliser that can be applied to crops. On the other hand, their botanical pesticides involve a cocktail of plants which known to have medicinal purposes. This product is simply a filtered mixture of the soaked cocktail with soap. These products are environmentally friendly and very cost effective, according to Mr Chinkhuntha.
Regardless of the effectiveness and efficiency of the products, the farmers currently only utilise them at a subsistence level. The biofertiliser and botanical pesticides are processed to be used by the farm and not for commercial purpose. Our Student Ambassador Kareem advised the manager to not only emphasize subsistence production of products but also to consider commercialising the products: “I told the farmers that marketing the agro products will not only benefit them but will also ensure that more farmers benefit and it will increase agricultural production.” He further advised the manager to work with scientists from LUANAR in future product development.
Report provided by Kareem Longwe.