His Excellency the State President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, has called upon Malawians to jump-start action in turning Malawi into a viable commercial farming nation that will fast track her goal of becoming a self-reliant and inclusively wealthy nation as per Malawi2063 vision.
The President was speaking on Thursday, June 9 in Lilongwe at the opening of a two-day 2022 Malawi Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization Conference which has brought together key stakeholders in the sector such as farmer organizations, donor community, academia, media, private sector and government ministries, departments and agencies.
The conference themed “Driving Agricultural Diversification in Support of the Aspirations of Malawi2063” converged among key stakeholders such as has been organized by policy think tank MwAPATA Institute in conjunction with National Planning Commission (NPC) and Government of Malawi, among others.
In his remarks, President Chakwera bemoaned the slow-paced approach that affects implementation of great ideas that are still on paper.
“What we lack is not policy direction or investment opportunities or public pronouncements regarding agricultural productivity and commercialization through mega farms. What we lack is implementation of these policies and pronouncements by the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said while reminding the line ministry of its obligation to set mega farms across the country as guided by the manifesto of Tonse Alliance.
He, thereafter, ordered the Ministry of Agriculture to produce results by rolling out mega farms in the remaining months of the year.
Speaking earlier, Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe, commended stakeholders for timing the conference perfectly in line with government’s efforts to transform the Agricultural sector.
“This conference could not have come at any better time than now, when we are developing a National Agricultural Diversification Strategy to orient our budgetary resources and operations towards agricultural diversification agenda. Through the Agricultural Commercialization Project (AGCOM), my Ministry is promoting investments in a wide range of agricultural enterprises and across the value chains,” said the minister.
Also speaking earlier was Executive Director of Mwapata Institute, William Chadza, who observed that the conference will help farming institutions to explore practical ways through which Malawi can optimize and commercialize the Agriculture sector.
He noted that it will help the sector to generate knowledge and engagement of stakeholders to solicit evidence-based research that will inform the policy direction of the sector.
The conference seeks to find answers that will chart a new course for the country’s Agriculture sector. Malawi’s farming has largely been at subsistence level characterized by labour intensive and outdated practices such as tilling with hoes and harvesting using hands.
It is estimated that only 13% of the country’s farming mechanized and only 25% of irrigable land is currently being utilized.
The meeting will also explore how best local farmers and producers can have access to structured and profitable domestic and international markets.