The government has been advised to consider mechanising agriculture systems in Malawi as a step towards commercialising the agriculture sector in line with one of the aspirations embedded in the Malawi 2063, the country’s long-term development blueprint.
Speaking during a media tour to Simbi Farm in Mchinji on Tuesday, Simbi Farm Operations Manager Mabvuto Jumbe said the government cannot go wrong with mechanised farming.
Simbi Farm harvests about 105 bags of maize [50 kilogrammes] using a combine harvester within 30 minutes.
“We are into maize farming at this farm. We have 300 hectares of land but this year we only managed to cultivate 180 hectares. Whatever you see on our farm is highly mechanised except for a few things that are done manually.
“There is a huge difference between using machines and manual. And if the government is certain that our country is an agro-based economy, then it has to adopt the use of machinery for the farmers,” Jumbe said.
Agriculture expert Leonard Chimwaza said the country is on track in terms of policy direction and structural alignment regarding mechanisation but failing on the implementation aspect.
He said much of the agricultural production in Malawi is done manually, with farmers having little or no access to mechanisation services.
“Most machines are not readily accessible at community level and operational hiring costs are always exorbitant; so, farmers are always restricted to embrace farm mechanisation.
“The other reason is that most of the machines are expensive to acquire. The taxes are always on the higher side, hence impinging the farmers to get them from outside countries,” Chimwaza said.
Secretary for Agriculture Sandram Maweru said he could not comment on the development because he was outside the country.
Apart from Simbi Farm, other notable institutions that use machinery in farming are Salima Sugar Company.
Recently, President Lazarus Chakwera directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure Malawi has at least a mega farm within six months.