Agricultural Commercialisation (Agcom) project has seen a slow uptake as only 30 groups have been formed since its inception in 2018 against the target of 250 by the end of next year.
This was revealed on Monday when Ministry of Agriculture Lobin Lowe toured the Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association (Shimpa) dairy farm at Mpemba in Blantyre.
The $95 million project aims at establishing the groups thatshould turn agriculture into business by providing them with 70 percent startup capital.
Speaking during the tour, Agcom National Coordinator Ted Nakhumwa acknowledged the hitches adding that the project delayed to start.
He, further, said that they have put in places strategies which will help farmers to access the finance and beyond production.
“We have recruited brokers to assist us with proposal writing, help us to teach and walk with producer organisations in search for markets, understanding contracts and meeting the standards demanded by the market,” he said.
Shimpa is a group of 11 thousand farmers producing more than 110 thousand liters of milk per day and sell to dairy companies in the country.
Shimpa Project Officer Zikone Chiphaka said Agcom funding has helped in improving capacity by adding to their dairy cows, trucks, tankers and other equipment.
Lowe also said he was not satisfied with the uptake of the finances but was quick to say they will find solutions to the problem.
“We are travelling as a team because from here, we will map the way forward on how we can replicate what is happening here to other groups in the central and northern region,” he said.
Government is running the Agcom project with funding from World Bank where farmers will be given 70 percent of starting capital as a grant.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.