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‘Malawi’s agriculture sector cannot do without subsidies’

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The Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) has said the agriculture sub-sector in the country can never survive if Malawi can do away with farm inputs subsidies.

Speaking in an interview last week in Balaka during a briefing of Balaka Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) members on the process of developing the National Agriculture Policy, Cisanet National Coordinator, Tamani Nkhono Mvula, said there is a great need to increase consumption of fertilisers if we are to maintain productivity.

“The fact remains Malawi’s agriculture sector has never survived without subsidies and one of the reasons this is the case is because of poverty. Most of the farmers that produce the food that we eat are very poor people,” Mvula said.

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He said considering that most of the soils in Malawi have completely degraded, there is need to increase the use of inorganic fertilisers among the peasant farmers to enhance productivity.

Nkhono Mvula said since most farmers are poor but at the same time need to increase productivity by using fertilisers, government ought to come in with subsidies to bail them out.

“Even if we could talk about agriculture loans, they must be at a subsidized level because fertilisers are very expensive and not affordable to the common farmer,” Mvula said.

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He said in as far as agriculture is concerned, subsidies must be part and parcel of our programming.

Duncan Mapwesera, executive member of Balaka CSOs, said even in the most advanced countries in Europe or America, farmers are heavily subsidised by the government because of the risk involved in agriculture production.

“In the case of Malawi farmers are too poor to access the farm inputs at the market price hence the need for subsidies and the proposed NAP should take cognizant of that fact,” Mapwesera said.

He said the alternative of using manure was doubtful because for instance in a 50Kg bag of Urea, the amount of Nitrogen found there is equivalent to the amount of Nitrogen found in five tonnes of compost manure.

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