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Farmers cry for stable markets

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The National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) has called on the government to set up stable and structured markets for various agriculture commodities if the idea of commercialising the sector is to be attained.

The association says accessing cheaper fertiliser alone would not yield the desired fruit if farmers would still grapple with access to markets of their farm produce.

Minister of Finance, Felix Mlusu, announced in his provisional budget that smallholder farmers estimated at 3.5 million will buy two bags of fertilizer at K4, 495 each.

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Nasfam Chief Executive Officer, Betty Chinyamunyamu, said the programme may lead to an increase in output and government needs to start thinking on how to manage excess produce.

“There will be need to look at exporting to other countries but the focus should be value addition instead of just exporting raw maize, we should be looking at producing and exporting value added products such maize flour, animal feed, corn flakes, corn starch and others,” Chinyamunyamu said.

In a separate interview, agricultural expert, Tamani Nkhono Mvula said that if focus is improving the agriculture sector then more must be done.

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“If we are talking about transformation of the sector then we need to come up with a different design of the programme which must also target those in the upper categories like the medium and large scale farmers and the form of the subsidy should be different,” Mvula said.

Experts have been arguing that the farm input subsidy programme has failed to transform the country’s agriculture sector.

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