Officials at the newly instituted Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (Trade) programme have committed to transform the agriculture sector in the country.
Among other things, the programme aims at strengthening value chains apart from creating an enabling environment to make agriculture more conducive for rural commercial development.
It is also expected to improve linkages between farmers and value chains by establishing efficient markets and partnerships.
During an engagement with the media in Blantyre recently, the programme’s national director Felix Lombe said Malawi continues to perform poorly on agriculture productivity due to weak linkages between farmers and the private sector.
Lombe also said most cooperatives, which are critical to improved agricultural productivity in Malawi, are still donor-driven when they should have been market driven.
“As a programme, we seek to address these hiccups in the country’s agricultural sector by among other things, making sure that potential farmers in the targeted districts have access to good storage facilities, transport facilities and markets,” Lombe said.
He then said the project would target farmers with the potential of transforming their lives and their communities.
“Not all people in rural areas are farmers;, some are labour constrained and they cannot work even if you provide them with inputs. So, we will target farmers that can bring the much needed productivity and change through agriculture,” Lombe said.
Malawi is an agro-based economy with tobacco, tea, cotton, groundnuts, sugarcane and coffee as major forex earners.
The trade programme, which is under the ministry of Local Government, will target 127,000 farmers in Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhatabay, Ntchisi, Kasungu, Mchinji, Lilongwe, Dedza, Blantyre and Thyolo districts.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.