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Mega farms delay irks stakeholders

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Stakeholders in the agriculture sector Wednesday urged the government to swiftly implement the Mega Farm Agriculture initiative to beat the presidential six months’ timeframe given in June this year.

One of the stakeholders, Mwapata Institute said the government should move with speed to ensure that all institutional frameworks and other primary processes are in place to facilitate smooth implementation of the initiative.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion in Lilongwe, Mwapata Institute Executive Director William Chadza said the initiative has potential to increase agricultural output.

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“Considering the timeframe that was given, things have moved slightly slower. We have seen the concept and tendering of the bids.

“Maybe there should have been more quick action particularly to look at what could be some quick wins to be achieved within the shortest period of time by building on some of the things which already exist,” he said.

Chadza said there are some concerns from the private sector on the upcoming of the crops bill, participation of foreigners, land registration export mandates among which need to be looked into.

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Controller of Agriculture Services Alfred Mwenefumbo said the Ministry of Agriculture is working around the clock to have at least one Mega farm in place by the end of this year.

Mwenefumbo expressed optimism that by the end of August the ministry should be able to identify operators of the advertised two Mega Farms.

“Before the end of the month we should be able to identify operators of the Mega Farms. Thereafter we will be making sure that what we are expected to do is achieved,” he said.

Currently according to Mwenefumbo offering for the public Private arrangement government has 10,000 hectares, of which 5,000 hectares of land would be committed to livestock and the rest to crop production

“We already have the land, machinery and basic equipment like 90 tractors spread across in our ADDs. We are going to make some of them available as part of our contribution to the development of the Mega farms,” he said.

Mwenefumbo said the ministry is focusing on Soya beans, groundnuts dairy and meat livestock.

One of the participants Iness Malemia from Pivote farms limited said there is need for political will and government support for local people to own large scale land.

Chakwera gave Minister of Agriculture and his six officials six months to set up a minimum of one mega farm, one of Tonse Alliance campaign promises.

In response, recently government called for expression of interest for management of 5,000 hectares of land in Mzimba and 9500 hectares of land in Mchinji earmarked for setting up of Mega farms for Livestock and crop production respectively.

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