Agricultural support to combat AIDS
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CTA. 2005. Agricultural support to combat AIDS. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57268
Dr Grace Malindi, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension Services in Malawi, describes a variety of programmes that are supporting communities affected by AIDS.
Agricultural support to combat AIDS Cue: In the early stages of the AIDS pandemic in Africa, the major work of responding to the crisis was by ministries of health. But over time the response to it has broadened, and in recent years, ministries of agriculture have also become involved in the fight against the disease. People have realised that agriculture has the capacity both to reduce the spread of AIDS and to help those already infected to live longer, healthier lives. The role of agriculture in fighting HIV/AIDS has many different aspects. For example, production of nutritious food and creation of income for people who might otherwise turn to prostitution; by providing good opportunities in rural areas, agriculture can also reduce the need for people to migrate in search of work. But agriculture also needs to change to meet the new challenges posed by AIDS. For example, it needs to respond to the loss of labour, and the lack of strength among those suffering from the disease, as well as the children and elderly who may be looking after them. Dr Grace Malindi, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension Services in Malawi spoke to Excello Zidana about how agricultural programmes there, are seeking to support rural communities, and particularly women, in coping with the effects of AIDS. IN: ?Women who are mostly affected by frequent illnesses..? OUT: ? but we are moving on a very promising note.? DUR?N 4?58? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Grace Malindi, Deputy Director of Malawi?s Department of Agriculture Extension Services. Transcript Malindi Women who are mostly affected by frequent illnesses as well as deaths, their time is divided as producers, as community participants in various community programmes. But not only their time but even their labour, you know they are very very burdened with the various agricultural programmes and at the same time with household tasks that they are supposed to perform. Zidana Now let?s look at the programmes owned by agriculture. Are there any special agricultural programmes that have been deliberately put in place to address people of this group? Malindi Yes various programmes are being put in place as you might well appreciate. We have programmes on information, various groups are organised in communities so that they can listen to radio programmes, through which they can have increased awareness and knowledge about the pandemic but also how they can mitigate, reduce the impacts within the agricultural context. But we have other projects that are coming up for economic empowerment, where we are talking of seed banks, communal vegetable gardens at each household. They should have backyard gardens. Small scale livestock like guinea fowl, rabbits, poultry. Water harvesting technologies. And the whole idea of having the various technologies integrated, put together. You know you can think of fish farming that is also combining irrigation so that people can irrigate their crops. And these integrated programmes are mainly supported through our partner organisations who we are working with very closely. Zidana You have talked about crops. Are there special varieties that are being promoted and recommended for these groups? Malindi Yes indeed, with crops you can take even our staple like maize. We are promoting the Quality Protein Maize, which has improved protein. We are promoting that for both human consumption as well as the animal feed. And we are also promoting indigenous vegetables but also exotic vegetables for increased household incomes, because those are really high value. Crops like spices, garlic, ginger, paprika, those would fetch households a lot of money and they can afford to buy foods which they cannot normally grow themselves. But of course we are also encouraging small scale livestock like rabbits, you know those are very very prolific, very cheap meat if you produce it yourself. Also chickens, guinea fowls, those are the types of livestock we are encouraging because those can be reared around homes easily. Of course you have to feed them but you do not have to go for the high cost feeds. Zidana I know, and for sure, these people who are suffering from AIDS now lack strength to be productive farmers. How does the Ministry of Agriculture help these people in the villages? Malindi This is where now we are talking of bringing services closer to homes even water which is a major resource for household uses. Where we are talking of rainwater harvest structures which are just fixed very close to the home but also other labour saving devices like use of hand carts, zero tillage technologies. In addition to that the rainwater harvest that is also combining drip irrigation. All those are bringing technologies closer home so that the affected, particularly the physically weak are less strained. We are encouraging a lot of communal spirit and working together through pooling of labour, pooling of resources, like where we are having communal vegetable garden, communal nurseries, communal food banks, seed banks, so that those that are really affected physically and with lots of problems are at least assisted by other households through communal efforts. Zidana I know you have known how others are participating in these gender issues. How do you rate Malawi? Are we really going ahead? Malindi My rating is we have a lot of lessons, lots and lots of lessons in Malawi, very very promising lessons and many countries are also learning from us. The only thing is that we need to scale up faster, we need to move with speed and work together as we have started. But we are moving on a very promising note. End of track