By Emmanuel Simpokolwe
Agriculture Commercialisation (Agcom) on Monday disbursed matching grants amounting to K2.1 billion to 20 farmer-groups in the Central Region to boost agribusiness.
The presentation of the grants took place at Chamama in Kasungu District.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Sandram Mawelu said disbursement of the grants demonstrates the government’s commitment to promote farming as a business.
“This also means that farmers have got business ideas because Agcom only gives business grants to groups that have proposals that make business sense,” Mawelu said.
He observed that the Ministry of Agriculture has a strong system of monitoring progress of the farmers whereby they visit the groups through the ministry’s planning division and also Agcom monitoring specialists.
Agcom Executive Director Ted Nakhumwa said his organisation was encouraging farmers to ensure that they have a ready market for their produce.
“We are looking at market orientation so we don’t just go into production without knowing where to sell our products.
“So, they are responding to the needs of the market,” Nakhumwa said.
The Agcom chief was quick to note that most farmers continue to struggle to prepare proposals that make business sense.
Nakhumwa, however, said, to address the challenges, Agcom has identified and recruited consultants that help farmers to write proposals that attract financing through matching grants.
“We are now registering some progress. We have registered about 212 productive alliances despite our target of 200,” Nakhumwa said.
He, however, said, out of the 212, only 150 are on the ground as others have not met the required criteria of making a 30 percent contribution before they receive a grant.
During the event, Agcom also handed over a tractor to Changu Cooperative of Kasungu to help them in their farming.
Changu Cooperative Chairperson Julius Mang’amba said the tractor will help them alot.