Students from Malawi who are currently participating in the Agrostudies program are set to become an asset in a special agricultural initiative in Malawi.
Agrostudies has teamed up with the Israeli Netafim and Malawi Mangos Company, a tropical fruit processing company that set out to cultivate technologically advanced commercial fruit farming in Malawi.
An international agricultural internship program in Israel, Agrostudies provides an 11 month internship in advanced farming to students from developing countries. This year, 32 students from Malawi have joined the program and are currently residing in Israel, learning to use advanced irrigation systems and world class commercial growing techniques.
The skills they learn during their internship will be an asset to Malawi Mangos Company, as they will be familiar with the irrigation systems provided by Netafim as well as other advanced farming methods they are currently learning in Israel.
Malawi Mangos was founded with the vision of creating a commercially driven agri-processing company that would benefit both the economy and the well-being of the people of Malawi. There are over 4,000 smallholder mango farmers in Malawi who face various challenges, from a total dependency on rainfall – due to a lack of irrigation systems and advanced farming techniques – to an inability to sell or export their produce. As a result much of the fruit goes to waste and local farmers see little to no economic benefit from their farmlands. Malawi Mangos set out to resolve these issues by establishing a world-class fruit processing plant in the heart of Malawi. Their business model runs full circle, as they grow a large portion of the fruit themselves, with the help of local farmers, process the fruit at the local factory using locals for labor and export abroad, leading to further investment in the local infrastructure.
Local farmers are taught at a training center established by Netafim, from whom Malawi Mangos also purchased their irrigations systems. Here, local farmers learn farming methods that are new to them using an incubation system. This is one of the areas in which Agrostudies graduates will serve as a backbone as they are expected to integrate in assisting the training process.
Farmers from the area have already begun to see the benefits of these technologies with their own eyes. 80ha were used to grow fruit last year and 200 additional hectares are being added during 2014 while another 1,500ha are planned for late 2014 early 2015. 500 of these ha will be divided into small 1/2ha demonstration plots on which local farmers will learn to use new growing technologies for specific strands of mango and banana. Once they have acquired the skills they will be provided with an irrigation kit and support to continue growing mango and banana on their own farms which Malawi Mangos promises to purchase.