Malawi President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has said a vibrant agriculture sector remains crucial in the provision of sustainable financial support to the country’s economic growth.
Mutharika made the remarks on Wednesday when he opened the 15th National Agriculture Fair currently underway at Chichiri Trade Fair grounds in Blantyre.
He said time had come for Malawian farmers to be empowered as such government is tirelessly working with development partners including China and other local investors to support the sector.
“Despite working different players, government is also implementing several local policies and strategic documents to adequately support the agriculture sector,” the Malawian leader emphasised.
Mutharika observed that for the country to forge ahead on matters of agriculture, collective efforts were needed to ensure the sector becomes vibrant to make the economy a more predominantly producing than an exporting one.
“As one way of improving the agriculture sector, I urge farmers to put much focus on value addition and industrialization as key to achieving this development. Blantyre shall soon have a company that will turn animal skins and hides into leather.
“Above all, the current administration will continue with the Farm Input Subsidy Programme and irrigation farming schemes so that there’s food security from the household level and also to ensure that all farmers have access to good market by constructing more feeder roads to improve accessibility,” Mutharika assured.
The president, therefore, disclosed that Malawi would soon have and Agriculture Cooperative Bank whose major objective would be to address all needs of farmers including providing smallholder farmers with capital for their agricultural production.
Mutharika, however, appealed to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to allocate more funds to the agriculture sector for a speedy establishment of the Bank.
He added that the agriculture sector has received another boost following the implementation of the first ever Shire Valley Transformation Programme in Chikwawa and Nsanje which he said is progressing well and ready to be launched.
“Under the Shire Valley Transformation Programme, at least 46,000 hectares would be put to irrigation to increase the country’s agricultural production,” he said. “Time has now come to dignify our farmers.”
President for Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Prince Kapondamgaga observed that much as the sector continues to face both natural and artificial challenges, the sector is moving in the right direction.
Kapondamgaga has since urged government to increase access to financing in the sector, noting that many farmers do not meet requirements from lending institutions.
“Availability of finance and markets are pillars behind a successful agriculture economy in order to improve food production. Also industrialization that is coming due to latest technology is crucial in promoting farmers’ productivity.
“The figures of stakeholders who attend the agriculture fair continue to grow year in year out because last year we had 104 pavilions and this year we have 126 pavilions. This means companies who have participated at this year’s Agriculture Fair have surpassed the number of companies that attended last year,” he said.
Kapondamgaga, therefore, commended government for enacting several agriculture policies that support the sector namely; the national agriculture policy and control of goods bill which, he said, have transformed the sector.
The 2018 Agriculture Fair is being held under the theme: “Access to finance, value addition and markets, key to agro-based industrialization.”