2 Sep, 2018

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Chidumu: I am excited, because as someone promoting agricultural economic empowerment, it’s going to help me achieve our agenda as a social enterprise
Malawian Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellow and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) alumni , Madalitso Chidumu, has emerged as one of the winners of US$20,000 D-Prize Global award.

The award is given to successful winners of innovations in different technologies.
The award will solve a fertilizer challenge by teaching and promoting Fertilizer Micro Dosing Technology to smallholder farmers, which directly solves land degradation issues and increases yields.

Chidumu was one of Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) fellows for 2015. In 2016 the US announced that Chidumu together with Rachel Sibande, would be Malawi’s delegates at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which took place in Palo Alto, California and was hosted by the then President Barack Obama.

She has since then promoted agribusiness enterprises for youth and women through her established agribusiness incubator.

Chidumu and Sibande were joined by more than 700 entrepreneurs from around the world alongside investors and public speakers.

In an interview, Chidumu said she was delighted.

“I am excited, because as someone promoting agricultural economic empowerment, it’s going to help me achieve our agenda as a social enterprise,” said Chidumu.

In her concept submitted to D-Prize, Chidumu said land degradation in the Southern Africa region has substantial environmental, social and economic costs.

She says the majority of Malawians live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and national surveys estimate that crop production accounts for 74 percent of all rural incomes.

Chidumu argues that unless nutrients are replaced, soils become depleted, causing the yields and crop quality to decline.

“However, farmers are often unable to invest in soil nutrients because they are increasingly costly and often inaccessible. Knowledge among smallholder farmers about what inputs to use and how to apply them effectively is limited. Malawian farmers uses a small amount of fertilizer which is applied to only a portion of their land, perpetuating the significant soil nutrient deficiencies leading to low yields,” she conceptualizes.

According to her, to address the problem of soil fertility, her project, which she calls Patsogolo ndi Ulimi, will increase yields of smallholder farmers by over 50% and promote a green environment through the promotion of fertilizer micro-dosing.

“This is a highly efficient technique that minimizes the application of and over reliance on chemical fertilizer. It involves the application of small quantities of fertilizer onto or close to the seed.

“The project will use an innovative education method of lead farmers approach to distribute the technology to reach farmers. Lead farmers are progressive farmers (community volunteers) in the community that pilot different innovations on their farms while teaching other farmers in the process. One lead farmer has an average of 20 farmers that learn from his farm,” said Chidumu.

With the money, about K15 million, Chidumu said it will help her recruit 100 lead farmers by the end of the year. She said one lead farmer will reach out to 2000 farmers with fertilizer micro-dosing training by the end of year and one recruit will reach out to 500 farmers translating into 10 000 by the end of five years.