Malawi government has secured a K61 billion loan to finance an Agricultural Commercialization Project (AGCOM) which will transform Malawi’s agriculture sector from predominantly peasant farming to commercial farming.
Speaking to journalist on Wednesday on the sidelines of stakeholders sensitization meeting at Kambiri Lodge in Salima, Director of Planning and Development in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD), Alexa Namaona said AGCOM which is running for five years from 2018 to 2023 is the backbone for worth creation among farmers.
“AGCOM is a project which is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism through Independent Project Implementation Unit (PIU) which aims at increasing commercialization of agriculture value chain products including crops, livestock and fisheries for domestic and export market,” said Namaona.
He explained that AGCOM will target small scale and emerging poor farmers (who cultivate more than 8 ha) and farmer organizations with the capacity to produce beyond subsistence.
“The project will also work with Agriproducts buyers, processors, retailers, exporters, and aggregators and Financial Institutions lending to the agriculture sector,” said Namaona.
Namaona said that the project will assist farmers from all corners of the country who are expected to organize themselves in groups/cooperatives and make business proposals that will be financed by AGCOM.
In another interview, National Coordinator for AGCOM, Dr. Ted Nankhumwa said AGCOM project will increase agriculture productivity.
“The project is a flagship of Malawi government to graduate farmers from subsistence farming to commercial farming, we will identify small scale and medium farmers who will be required to submit proposals,” said Nankhumwa.
Nankhumwa said that the project is reaching out to all interested farm groups across the country who submit proposals and that no allocation is provided to a particular district.
“The districts will benefit according to the proposals that they send to us, and we expect trade officers and other officials in the district that work with these groups to be proactive to ensure that the cooperatives are coming forth with proposals,” said Nankhumwa.
“The aim is to build 300 alliances which translate to 650,000 households that will benefit and graduate from subsistence farming,” he said.
Successful Cooperatives will be given matching grants to procure capital equipment and technical support to link them to markets.
A representative of Cooperatives, Clement Mpoto, from Kaso Cooperative in Mvera Dowa district said the project is a good deal to farmers, but that farmers need to be well sensitized on project proposal writing and marketing of goods.
“This project will turn subsistence farmers into millionaires in a short time, but there is a lot that a farmer needs to be taught before they start benefiting or utilizing the projects,” said Mpoto.
According to official documents on the access to AGCOM, farmers will be required to be organized in groups or farmer organizations and in turn productive alliance will respond to the call of proposal for selected value chains.
The document further said proposals will be called using advertisement in local dailies, television, district councils, district agriculture offices, UN development business online and on World Bank’s external site.