Experts strategise on uplifting farmers
Experts in the agriculture sector on Friday brainstormed on how to lift the country’s smallholder farmers in the next 40 years.
The experts had the discussions during a second Eminent Speakers series organised by the Mwapata Institute, Michigan State University (MSU), National Planning Commission (NPC) and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar).
National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi Chief Executive Officer, Betty Chinyamunyamu, said smallholder growers play a critical role as far as the well being of Malawi’s agrobased economy is concerned.
Chinyamunyamu said time has come for local smallholder farmers to start expanding their operations.
She said this could only happen if they adopt new ways of farming, including mechanisation.
According to Chinyamunyamu, since most gardens of smallholder growers are small in size, adopting systems such as land consolidation could help the growers to use equipment such as tractors.
She added that interventions aimed at uplifting farmers need to look at smallholder growers as commercial players.
Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation Chairperson, Felix Jumbe, underscored the need for Malawi to clearly define who smallscale growers are and design strategies that would help in their growth.
Jumbe said that could happen by critically analysing challenges that have humpered the development of smallholder farmers in the past years and crafting strategies to avoid a repeat of similar situations in the future.
NPC Director General, Thomas Munthali, said as Malawi is in the process of crafting a successor strategy for Vision 2020, which will be in line with Africa’s Agenda 63, it would be critical to address challenges that affect major sectors of the economy, including agriculture.
“As we move ahead, we need to start looking at ways of developing smallholder growers,” Munthali said.
Latest national accounts figures from the Reserve Bank of Malawi indicate that agriculture is Malawi’s top contrinutor to the Gross Domestic Product at 27 percent.
About 80 percent of Malawians live in rural areas where they survive on subsistance farming.