Malawi has been urged by European Union (EU) to carefully use over 250 motorcycles the union, alongside Unicef and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), donated to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development .
The motorcycles are meant for extension workers in the Afikepo and Kulima projects which seek to improve agriculture productivity and food and nutrition security in the country.
During the presentation of the bikes at Capital Hill--the seat of Malawi government--Nyasa Times learnt that the bikes were the first batch of the 450 that are going to be procured and handed over to government.
According to FAO, the Kulima project aims at achieving sustainable increase of agricultural productivity and diversified production within the context of climate change.
It also aims at strengthening agricultural advisory services through a transformative extension methodology.
On the other hand, Afikepo, which means "let them (the children) grow to their fullest potential," seeks to address chronic malnutrition in Malawi.
The activities being implemented by FAO and UNICEF are supporting the diversification and intake of safe and nutritious foods to achieve optimal nutrition for women of child bearing age, adolescent girls, infants and young children.
The two projects are being implemented in ten districts of Chitipa, Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Mzimba, Nkhotakota, Salima, Kasungu, Chiradzulu, Thyolo and Mulanje.
"We noted that mobility is the biggest challenge to our extension workers in our quest to successfully implement these two projects hence we requested for this support from EU," said FAO Malawi Country Director, James Robert Okoth.
Okoth commended EU for the gesture, saying FAO, UNICEF, the Government of Malawi and other relevant stakeholders will continue working together in ensuring that Kulima and Afikepo projects produce the desired results.
EU resident representative Sandra Paesen said Malawi needs to treat the donation with seriousness, saying funds used to procure these motorbikes have been mobilised through taxes from the people in Europe.
"If Malawi looks at this from that perspective, I am sure that these motor bikes will be used for the intended purpose and help achieve the intended goals."
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said the motorcycles will be used by frontline staff such as extension service workers who reach out to farmers in rural areas, saying the donation "therefore bridges that gap and will help the extension workers reach out to as many farmers as possible with the extension services."
He said: "This donation of the motorcycles is, therefore, received with the warmest gratitude because our few extension workers will now be able to reach out to larger areas with their advisory services."