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Minister pledges to protect farmers

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Ministry of Agriculture has said it will intensify efforts towards creation of structured market for agriculture commodities to protect small scale farmers and ensure that they earn the most from their toil.

Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe said this when he inspected some agricultural cooperatives engaged in irrigation farming in a Chikwawa, Thyolo and Nsanje districts.

Lowe said most vendors exploit farmers by buying commodities at very low prices.

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“Most farmers are saying vendors seem to take advantage when they (farmers) are selling as individuals. So, my ministry will promote and strengthen these cooperatives,” Lowe said.

He, however, said he was impressed with irrigation farming schemes in the Lower Shire, adding that if well taken care of, it has capacity to keep this country food secure.

Tiyanjane Irrigation Cooperative chairman MacFarlane Ben said apart from stable markets, the government should consider formulating policies that would to promote irrigation farming.

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“The government should widen the scheme and when we are producing maize, fertiliser is not enough as coupons are not enough for us and we are forced to buy at an expensive price,” Ben said.

Among other sites, the minister toured Nkhate Irrigation Scheme, Chilengo Irrigation Scheme, Kasinthula Research Station, Nyambalomba Cooperative and Yadidi Nyama Cooperative.

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