Vice President, Saulos Chilima, has hailed the Yara International Action Africa Programme which seeks to provide free fertilisers and seeds to 91,000 poor households in Malawi.
Speaking in Lilongwe during the launch of the flagging off of Yara International Fertiliser and Bayer Hybrid Maize Seed to poorest households, Chilima said the initiative complements the Tonse government’s initiative of providing cheap fertiliser and seed to Malawians under the Affordable Input Programme.
The vice president said it is an undeniable fact that agriculture remains the backbone and remains an important sector for the economy.
He said scaling up efforts to turn the country’s agriculture sector into a robust one is a major long term development target for the country.
“The coming in of Action Africa to target farmers who are economically disadvantaged that even the K4,495 bag of fertiliser is beyond reach for them, is highly commendable and appreciated by the government.
“Through these combined efforts, it is my sincere hope that our farmers will not only be food and nutrition secure but also be able to increase income generation for their families.
“These joint efforts show the extent of how collaboration between the government and international non-state organisations can do to effectively contribute towards food security,” Chilima said.
The Vice President underscored the need for Malawi to diversify her crop base, by encouraging farmers to grow more than one crop, including both food and cash crops.
“It is therefore encouraging that the Action Africa programme gives farmers the opportunity to test out new crops, especially crops that can be exported. And more important is the fact that the farmers will also be trained in good agricultural practices.
“The programme will provide a strong platform and collective knowledge to consider how best to transition this initiative into a country-wide Public Private Partnership to support our smallholders and capacitate our agricultural organisations such as Admarc,” Chilima said.
In June this year, Yara launched the Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future, which is an initiative with the goal to mobilise support for 250,000 smallholder farmers in seven African countries to secure food production and improved food security.
The initiative includes advocacy and partnerships, farmer connectivity and digital solutions, and operational support including 40,000 metric tons of high quality fertilisers with zinc for improved nutrition.
Yara’s fertiliser contribution, combined with agronomic support, is expected to triple maize production and feed more than one million people across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique for one year.
Yara International President and Chief Executive Officer, Svein Tore Holsether, said vulnerable communities may face the most devastating food crisis in decades.
“If we do not act now, millions of people will be pushed into deep poverty and hunger. This is especially worrying in Africa where lives and livelihoods are at risk.
“As a critical part of the food value chain, we have a responsibility to support vulnerable farming communities and help avert a hunger crisis,”Holsether said.