* Agriculture Minister Lowe impressed with Mega Farm concept implementation by Chimpeni Estate in Zomba
* After finishing harvesting tobacco in April, Chimpeni Farm grew sugarbeans seed on a land over 100ha using center pivot irrigation
* Come July, they intend to grow another crop to be harvested in October or thereabout
* Before planting tobacco again this same season — three times cropping in a year
By Loness Gwazanga, MANA & Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express
About 200 farmer groups in the country are expected to benefit from World Bank grants under the Malawi Watershed Improvement Project (MWASIP) aimed at improving productivity, market access and profitability.
MWASIP Technical Director, Joseph Kanyangalazi said this during a media orientation on Thursday in Blantyre that the grants will be in two categories — where apart from the 200 farmers’ grants, 60 agri-enterprises will also get grants to improve quality and value addition.
“The two categories are matching grants for smallholder farmers targeting 200 farmer groups with grants between US$5,000 and US$25,000.
“Again, 60 agri-enterprises will get grants between US$25,000 and US$ 50,000,” said Kanyangalazi, adding that market linkages will be built through supply contracts between producers and buyers to ensure maximum utilization of the grants so that it serves its purpose.
The director observed that the success of the project required much publicity, thus urged the media to report more on project, currently targeting five districts of Blantyre, Neno, Zomba, Machinga and Ntcheu districts.
The MWASIP’s main objective is to increase the adoption of sustainable landscape management practices to improve watershed services using integrated catchment approaches.
The US$160 million (K163 billion) worth project — which could extend to Balaka, Mangochi and some parts of Machinga — intends to restore 95,000 hectares of degraded land as well as register 20,000 hectares of land and offer land tenure security to 16,000 farmers.
Meanwhile, in a statement posted on Ministry of Agriculture’s Facebook page, Minister Lobin Lowe said on Tuesday, he visited Chimpeni Estate in Zomba before engaging some commercial tobacco farmers in the Southern Region as they work around the clock together with other Ministries in actioning the Mega Farm concept implementation.
He said: “My visit was basically aimed at engaging already existing farmers on how government can leverage on Agricultural assets (land, capital, labour and management) which form a basis of production.
“Together we shared some experiences, challenges and way forward on how best we can implement His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s mega farm vision.”
He added that he was “very impressed with what some commercial farmers are doing”, saying “after finishing harvesting tobacco in April, Chimpeni Farm grew sugarbeans seed on a land over 100ha using center pivot irrigation”.
“Come July, they intend to grow another crop to be harvested in October or there about before planting tobacco again this same season — three times cropping in a year.”
He described the Chimpeni Estate initiative as the right mentality towards agricultural commercialisation taking cognizance that the irrigated crops will be added value right there in Zomba and that over 1000 jobs are being created at only one farm.
“This means that, while we are at an advanced stage in starting government mega farms, my Ministry will continue supporting commercial farmers to be Anchor Farmers in their areas that — whatever they produce in their farms — they should help their communities by outgrowing them so that the community can be complementing their harvests and sell all together.
“The anchor farmers will really help again in knowledge transferring to our farmers on modern agricultural practices. And soon, we will get more benefits from agriculture.”
He announced that he will soon be in the North and finish with Central Region in engaging commercial farmers, saying: “MW2063 Pillar 1 of Agriculture productivity and commercialization will be possible by leaving no one behind. Tonse titengapo mbali ndithu to achieve this.”
In collaboration with Farmers Business Network and IFAD, Ministry of Agriculture announced that it is offering financial aid to all farmers across the country to help them reduce hunger and poverty by granting them Farming Financial Grants.
Interested individuals who wish to benefit from this funding program are invited to submit their online applications on the portal: https://rb.gy/fdm8tz.