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Rice farmers yearn for contract method

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Rice farmers under Domasi Irrigation Scheme in Machinga District have asked the government and Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum) to help them identify companies and organisations with which they can enter into contracts.

Speaking in an interview on Monday, some farmers said contract farming could help them increase and improve their access to resources and increase agricultural productivity of farmers.

The scheme’s chairperson Anderson Chapita disclosed that small-scale rice farmers face a number of production and marketing constraints, such as limited access to services, including effective extension and rural credit, which are crucial pre-conditions for upgrading commodity value chains.

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“Contract farming could also help us access better markets for our crop and guarantee us adequate supply of raw materials to agro-based industries. Currently, we are selling our yield to vendors who usually offer uncompetitive prices,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fum is leading a consortium of three civil society organisations, namely Center for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa), Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) and the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), in the implementation of Strengthening Inclusive Agriculture Sector Growth and Sustainable Natural Resources Governance in Malawi Project.

The project is designed to increase agricultural production and productivity, access to markets and agricultural financing, and achieve increased policy environment for commercialisation and natural resource governance.

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Fum Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist Derrick Kapolo said the project is leveraging on interventions that have been implemented in Malawi.

“Using a collaborative approach, the project brings together stakeholders in the agriculture sector including farmers, farmers’ organisations, non-state actors, the private sector, civil society organisations and government ministries and departments,” Kapolo said.

He said Domasi Irrigation Scheme is one of the schemes the consortium is working with to achieve its goal of inclusive and sustainable agricultural-led economic growth through agricultural transformation in Malawi.

The scheme has 500 hectares of which 470 hectares are being used. The scheme has a membership of 2, 057 farmers, of which 1, 058 are male while 999 are female.

The current annual tonnage stands at 230 metric tonnes, but the farmers say there is potential to increase it.

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