Mangochi:ย The Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Honorable Nancy Tembo MP, presided over the launch of the Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) Guidelines at Chiwalo CBO Ground in T/A Nankumba in Mangochi District. The ABS Guidelines will assist the country in ensuring that there is fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.

The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) guidelines address challenges that communities face including illegal access of genetic resources, unequal sharing of benefits arising from use, loss of export revenue, and unsustainable harvesting of resources. The Guidelines have been developed by the Environmental Affairs Department with support from the Shire Valley Transformation Programme.

Speaking during the launch, Honorable Tembo encouraged traditional leaders and community members to sustainably use natural resources.

โ€œI was so impressed to see that the community has effectively preserved the forest and are now benefiting from selling different products abroad. This is an example worth emulating. I would like to encourage other communities in the country to conserve natural resources to realize the benefits like what the communities are doing here. Long-term conservation will materialize in long-term gains for our communities,โ€ said Honorable Tembo.

Community members from T/A Nankumba in Mangochi displayed different products from their locally managed forests which they sell directly to Germany. Some of the products included baobab-based products including powder and oil, moringa and neem powders, and Strophanthus Kombe (ulembe) which are used for medicinal purposes. The communities are currently implementing ABS Guidelines with support from Welt Hunger Hilfe.

ABS Guidelines are being piloted at GVH Mwanda in Nsanje District with funding from the Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP). The Government of Malawi is implementing the SVTP through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), with support from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts.ย  Mwanda Thabalaba Group is a grouping of men and women from Mwanda who sell Jateorhiza palmata (locally known as Thabalaba) obtained from Matandwe Forest Reserve. Mwanda Thabalaba group was formed on a pilot basis but more groups are expected to be established in other areas of the district. The group also has a nursery aimed at domesticating Thabalaba root to ease pressure on Matandwe Forest Reserve.

Malawi is a party to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) which seeks to achieve fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.