President Peter Mutharika has today launched the Agriculture Commercialization (AGCOM) Project which seeks to graduate 650,000 small and medium scale farmers from subsistence to commercial farming.
The six-year project is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and the Ministry of Trade and Tourism with a US$95 million (about K70 billion) loan from the World Bank.
Speaking during the function, Mutharika said the project will transform the agricultural smallholder sub-sector from the current subsistence to commercial orientation and allow people in the country to create new wealth for themselves using locally available resources.
“We have land, water, minds to think and hands to work for ourselves, why should we be poor?” queried Mutharika.
He then noted that most smallholder farmers do not have capital to invest in agriculture and there are lack of markets where farmers can sell their produce.
The Malawi leader said the project will provide financing for investing in agriculture, create access to well-structured markets, provide a good feeder network for transporting produce and organise farmers into associations and empower farmers to invest in value addition.
“In doing so we will create jobs and wealth at the same time. What we have done today is a revolution in agriculture in Malawi,” said Mutharika.
He further said that he wants every community in Malawi to have the capacity to use their own land, to increase productivity and add value to their produce.
He added that his government will make sure that every community has electricity, good road network, and potable water.
In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa said the project is being implemented by supporting the integration of small-scale and emerging farmers into value chains by improving their capacity to finance and execute productivity-enhancing investments and respond to the requirements of end-markets and buyers.
According to Nankhumwa, US$30 million will be provided to participating farmers for capital investments with a view to increasing productivity, quality and sale of agriculture products, improving post-harvest storage and processing capability.
The launch was held under the theme “Agriculture Commercialization: Leveraging Cooperation and Markets”.