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Look beyond food security— Ifad

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Visiting International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad) President Gilbert Houngbo has urged Malawi to use agriculture as the springboard for economic development.

Houngbo said this Monday at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on the sidelines of a meeting which he, alongside Norwegian Minister for International Development Anne Tvinnereim, had with President Lazarus Chakwera.

The Ifad chief said time had come for Malawi to look at agriculture as a launch pad for pulling Malawians out of poverty.

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According to Houngbo, agriculture should be seen as a tool for creating wealth, particularly for smallholder farmers.

“We need to create strategies through which our smallholders can participate more in the value chain to increase their income. Farming should be seen as any other activity used in generating sufficient income for households,” Houngbo said.

On her part, Tvinnereim said Malawi was blessed with resources such as land, water and a nice climate for food production.

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She said if projects aimed at transforming the agriculture sector were implemented, agriculture had the potential to spur Malawi towards sustainable development.

According to Tvinnereim, there are a number of things that need to be done to boost crop and animal production.

Tvinnereim cited technology as one of the tools for connecting small-scale farmers to value chains.

“Small-scale farmers are the major part of the private sector in this country. They are the producers. We need to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming,” she said.

Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe said Chakwera regarded both Ifad and Norway as critical partners in the development of agriculture in Malawi.

According to Lowe, the President has committed to embrace technology in farming to boost productivity.

Since 1981, Ifad has financed 14 rural development programmes and projects in Malawi at a total cost of $653.67 million, directly benefitting more than two million rural households.

Initiatives which Ifad supports include Sustainable Agricultural Production Programme, Programme for Rural Irrigation Development, Financial Access for Rural Markets, Smallholders and Enterprise Programme and Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship Programme.

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