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Lazarus Chakwera for commercial farming

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ECSTATIC— A female farmer (right) marvels at this year’s prospective maize yield

President Lazarus Chakwera has said he wants the country to move away from subsistence farming to commercial farming which, he said, is more profitable.

Chakwera said this in Zomba during his second day of crop inspection tours.

He said subsistence farming could not take the country out of the poverty trap.

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“Subsistence farming is oftentimes a result of subsistence thinking that ‘it’s okay if I have enough to eat at my household’. This cannot take our households out of poverty and that is why we have to go for commercial farming,” he said.

During the tour, Chakwera repeated his call for farmers to work together in clubs, saying those in clubs stand a better chance of securing and utilising subsidised farm inputs under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) than those who are not.

He, however, said he took note of all the concerns farmers raised regarding AIP, including the accessibility of inputs in some parts of the country.

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“Some of the farmers did not access fertiliser while others only found one type of fertiliser. All this points to the need to prepare better next time. All these challenges are being documented so that we, as a country, can get better,” Chakwera said.

Chakwera noted that, on top of the challenges farmers faced in the 2021-22 season, the season was also hit by prolonged dry spells and floods triggered by tropical storms Ana and Gombe.

He said such calamities would reduce this year’s harvest by between 14 and 17 percent compared to last year but was quick to say there was no need to worry as the country has a surplus from the last growing season.

Speaking earlier, Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe decried the unpatriotic tendencies of some local suppliers the government contracted to distribute inputs under the AIP.

“Some of local suppliers were selling underweight bags of fertiliser, others mixed the fertiliser with sand while others were only buying people’s national identity cards in order to claim money from the government without actually selling the fertiliser. We will make sure that this does not happen again,” Lowe said.

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