7th Bilateral consultation between the governments of Flanders and Malawi
On 27 and 28 October, the seventh Bilateral consultation between the governments of Flanders and Malawi took place at Lilongwe.
The consultation provides the opportunity to take stock of the development cooperation programme between the two parties as outlined in the third country strategy paper, 2019-2023. Discussions dealt mainly with the implementation of the programme which focuses on agriculture, and more specifically on agricultural extension, market access and sustainable land management. Together with the Malawi Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Trade and Local Government, as well as the National Planning Commission, we discussed ongoing projects, best practices as well as challenges, and planned future projects and programmes.
This was the first visit to partner country Malawi for the new Head of Division International Cooperation of the Flanders Chancellery and Foreign Office, Mr Wouter Nachtergaele. An extensive program with meetings and field visits was compiled for him by the Diplomatic Representative for Southern Africa, Geraldine Reymenants, and Deputy Diplomatic Representative in Malawi, Sofie Geerts. We had a fruitful meeting with Hon. Halima Daud, Deputy Minister of Local Government, on Flanders’ direct support to Kasungu and Mzimba districts. We also spent a day in Kasungu, where Flanders supports programmes focused on increasing the capacity and productivity of smallholder farmers and, vitally, linking them to markets. The Chidzenje Farmer Field School is an example which, with the support of the FAO, has successfully reduced poverty through the promotion of market-oriented agricultural production, while Farm Radio Trust provides agricultural extension services to farmers using radio, WhatsApp, sms and other tools. Two further projects which build networks and trading possibilities are implemented by Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ACE), which promotes a warehouse receipt system, and Tradeline, which connects cooperatives and traders, offering technical assistance and financial support via an investment fund. These projects are a representative cross-section of the work resulting from the development cooperation partnership between Malawi and Flanders, a relationship which was cemented by this valuable consultation.