Minister of Industry and Trade Mark Katsonga Phiri has warned that the country risks being crushed if Malawians do not drop their insatiable appetite for imports in the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation.
Katsonga was speaking in Lilongwe during the 25th annual general meeting (AGM) of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (Nasfam).
According to Katsonga, the rolling out of the AfCFTA demands that Malawi focuses on production and exportation of high value products.
This, Katsonga Phiri said, can be achieved if Malawi doubles its production capacities and engages an extra gear in as far as value addition is concerned.
“If we continue exporting raw materials, we will never get rich as a country. Rich countries add value to their primary products.
“If we continue exporting raw materials the way we have been doing, we get reduced earnings and when the other countries get our raw materials, they will process them and send them to us in form of value added products. We end up consuming our own products but at an expensive price,” Katsonga Phiri said.
The AGM was conducted under the theme ‘Market-led Production: Foundation for Agricultural Commercialisation’.
Nasfam Board Chairperson Clara Malikula said the theme is in line with the organisation’s five-year strategic plan which aims at enhancing smallholder farming enterprises for improved farmer livelihoods.
“This theme is also in line with Malawi 2063 objectives. The theme is also in line with Nasfam’s objectives of promoting smallholder farmers’ role in agribusinesses.
“Nasfam has been a champion in promoting farming as a business in Malawi. The theme, therefore, underpins what Nasfam has been advocating since its establishment in 1997,” Malikula said.
Nasfam works with smallholder farmers providing them with extension services, helping them access quality seeds, facilitate access to profitable markets and improves their position in the agricultural value chains.
Nasfam has 65 associations which are hub areas for building the commercial farming capacities.
The AGM attracted 160 farmer representatives from 22 districts in Malawi, representing over 80,000 smallholder farmers who are members of Nasfam.