By Chimwemwe Mphande, MANA
A rice seed multiplication program in Machinga District, initiated by Challenges Malawi Project, raises hope for enhanced rice production in the district, which has the potential to become one of the leading producers of the crop.
During a field day at Zumulu Water Users Association on Tuesday in Traditional Authority Mlomba, the district’s agriculture development officer, Sosten Zulu commended Challenges Malawi Project’s efforts in working closely with five water users associations in the the promotion of the rice production.
“Machinga has the potential to become one of the leading producers of the crop,” he said. “However, most farmers do not use certified seed as a result, yields are always minimal.”
Zulu, therefore, urged farmers to use modern ways of farming and embrace mechanization which government provided such as the cornweeder, to minimise labour costs and maximise on profits.
He also encouraged farmers to utilise Nsanama Farmers’ Cooperative, which is only a few kilometres from the scheme, for value addition to maximise profits.
On marketing of produce, Challenges Malawi Project’s agriculture manager, Hope Ndalama said they are working to help farmers find markets both at national and international levels.
“Apart from building the capacity of farmers to increase production, we also want to ensure that they are able to negotiate for better prices of their produce to grow in their business,” Ndalama said.
He said the organisation, which will work with the farmers for four years, is currently helping the farmers to have their seed certified.
“In our research, we noticed that seed was a great challenge to farmers, such that they had to source it from other districts.
“However, with the multiplication program, more farmers will be growing Kilombero rice, which is highly marketable,” he said.
A member of the 28-member Zumulu Water Users Association, Lester Waya said farmers faced the challenge of markets the first time they ventured into seed multiplication but this time — with all the available support — there is hope for better markets.
Meanwhile, Nsanama Farmers’ Cooperative will be buying the rice at K500 per kilogram and the cooperative also assisted the farmers with soft loans of fertilizer and seed.
Growing their rice on a 4.8-hectare stretch through Zumulu Irrigation Scheme, Zumulu WUA expects to harvest close to 480 bags of rice.