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Farmers’ congress for cooperatives, markets

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The Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) from Tuesday held its annual general meeting where the issue of cooperatives took the center stage as the organisation strives to instill commercialisation drive among its member smallholder farmers.

The 11th annual congress was held under the theme “Farming for markets and development, linking farmers to structured and profitable markets”.

Opening the conference, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza challenged the farmers to increase productivity and production scales to take advantage of existing markets.

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He said, among other things, that the government will resuscitate Admarc to provide ready market to rural areas as one way of motivating the farmers to increase productivity.

FUM chief executive officer, Prince Kapondamgaga, said the organisation believes that the structured markets and cooperatives are key to the commercialisation drive the country wants smallholder farmers to emberk on.

He cited the AHL Commodities Exchange as a market that facilitates both markets and financing to farmers through auctioning of the produce on open market and the concept of warehouse receipt system.

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“Farmers can be able to access loans from banks through warehouse receipt system and this is the way to go if farmers are to be rescued from selling their produce to vendors cheaply at the time they are desperate for cash,” explained Kapondamgaga.

He added that the lack of profitable markets is the reason farmers fail to improve productivity as they do not get encouraged to do more in their farming activities.

The conference brought together different players concerned with agriculture and provided an opportunity to farmers from across the country to be exposed to market and finance opportunities through exhibition and presentations that were made at the two day event.

During the conference a key note address on cooperatives was made by a Kenyan expert, Nelson Kuria, focusing on the role of cooperatives in facilitating farmers’ access to structure and profitable markets.

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