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Value addition vital in agriculture—AfDB

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said introducing farmers and the youth to value chains remains key to agricultural sector growth.

AfDB Country Representative, Andrew Mwaba, was speaking at the launch of a five-year Infrastructure and Youth in Agribusiness project in Nkhata Bay on Monday.

The K17 billion project, which is being funded by the bank, seeks to promote agriculture production among the youth and build people’s resilience to climate change among other goals.

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“AfDB has provided support to a number of projects in Malawi but we did not emphasise more building value chains.

“The youth are the future of agriculture and agribusiness and through this project we will look at their needs so that they develop interest into the sector which has been viewed as an area for people retiring from regular employment,” Mwaba said.

The project is targeting to equip 10, 000 youths in Nkhata Bay and Nkhotakota with value addition, agro-processing and agri-business skills. It will also help the youth access loans and find markets for their produce.

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Linga Irrigation Scheme in Nkhata Bay South and Dwambazi Irrigation Scheme in Nkhotakota North have been designed to occupy 1,945 hectares under the project.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Erica Maganga, said the project is a timely intervention on matters of unemployment among the youth and the degradation of the environment.

“The youth will be greatly involved in the two irrigation schemes to address unemployment.

“We have also seen that most of our water supply projects and irrigation schemes are being heavily degraded due to wanton cutting down of trees. With this project, we aim at reversing such scenarios,” Maganga said.

The project, she said, will also get a two million euros package specifically for catchment conservation for its sustainability.

“Catchment conservation is key to sustainability of agriculture and water supply projects in the country,” Maganga said.

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