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Agriculture
COMSIP promotes 320 legume farmers
November 25, 2021 / Wahard Betha

A local cooperative union, the Community Savings and Investment Promotion (COMSIP), says it has promoted about 320 legume farmers in the country through its Legume Enterprise and Structure Production (LESP) program, which it kick-started in 2015.


COMSIP says through LESP they have promoted the farmers through offering of loans and matching grants, marketing their produce and teaching them on how they can save their investments.


Cooperate Development and Investment Officer for COMSIP Paul Kamwendo said in the past five years the union has been promoting production of legumes including sugar beans, soya, pigeon peas, groundnuts, rice and others.

Kamwendo said as a capacity building organization promoting savings and investment among groups that do not have accounts with commercial banks, they launched the programme with the understanding that many of union members are farmers and they rely on agribusiness.

He said: “In 2013, we saw that so many groups are looking for market for agricultural products and after doing some research we saw that we could invest and save money in groups but first we were looking at what was coming out of our investment and farming activities.”

“Issues that were hindering us were about market linkages and the financial support, and for that point we introduced the programme called Legume Enterprise and Structured Production (LESP).”

“On financial support, in the first year it was 70% loan and 30% matching grant and the subsequent year it was 50% loan and 50% matching grant while third year it was 30% and 70%.”

“The fourth year, it is 100% grant because they had to graduate in the process than having the same group all the years getting the same percentage of loan and at the same time our basis is to reach many groups other than dwelling on the same group.”

In 2019, COMSIP in collaboration with Harvest Plus, an organization which is fostering and advocating for seed multiplication by fortified seeds, adopted the orange maize Vitamin-A.

Kamwendo said the adoption of Vitamin-A was ideal with the coming of government’s school feeding program which identified the crop as so nutritious and the demand increased, giving an opportunity for farmers to make more profits.


He also said the promotion of the orange maize vitamin-A in collaboration with Harvest Plus is a surplus to what the union has already been doing on legume production.

Kamwendo said through the collaboration, they managed to produce about 300 metric tons in the first year of production while this year they have produced about 400 metric tons of orange maize vitamin A.

However, he lamented lack of financial support as a bottleneck to farmers in the country to fully excel in agribusiness.
He said some farmers fail to access loans from commercial banks in fear of issues to do with collateral and other bank demands including insurance.

Kamwendo said: “Every bank is looking for a farmer that has a ready buyer with ample financial resources. So many of these farmers are subsistence farmers and they do not have such kind of a market.”

“In the legume market, some of the buyers are not coming up with such kind of platform where they offer agricultural contracts.”
“Malawi will become a food basket only if the farmers are assisted financially. You know Malawians are hard workers and in Malawi what many know that brings food or money in their basket is farming.”

“If all farmers in all groups will access agribusiness loans, we will be assured that the Malawian economy will grow because they will have the muscle to compete on the market,” he said.

He also called for mindset change for farmers to start considering farming as a business so that they remain resilient in times of changes of prices of commodities.

He said: “This time our farmers are crying that fertilizer prices have gone up but I will change that to say farming cost has gone up.”

“It means that as a business, this should result in hiking price for that commodity to make profits, prices of legumes should also go up.”

“The market should prepare that the prices have gone up not just be crying. Now you should be thinking that these materials have gone up.”

Nationwide, COMSIP has 895 groups with a membership of 55,781 of which over the years has been facilitating growth of the groups into well managed, member-driven savings and investment institutions which have fully integrated enterprise development at their core.

Generally, COMSIP collaborates with various partners including policy direction and support from Government of Malawi (GOM) and other agencies such as National Local Government Finance (NLGFC), and development partners mainly the World Bank and German Technical Cooperation (GIZ).

The collaboration with various stakeholders helps in enhancing capacity building, general project management and coordination, savings mobilization, nutrition and health, business management and financial literacy among the rural and urban poor households.

Agriculture
Chakwera urges Malawians to invest in commercial farming
November 25, 2021 / Bester Kayaye

There is need for more Malawians to invest in mechanized commercial agriculture if the country is to meet its aspirations contained in the Malawi 2063 vision.


State President Lazarus Chakwera said this at the launch of the 10 year implementation plan for Malawi 2063 that was held at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.


He said a person’s educational qualifications or economic status should not be a deterrent factor from participating in farming activities.

Chakwera said: “There are some in our midst who still need to be convinced to start farming because they think they are too educated or too cool to farm.”

“I notice that the Implementation Plan says that we need to digitize farming in order to make it more attractive to young people.”

“I believe that this is not the right way to say it. The right way to say it is that we need to digitize farming in order to make farming more efficient and more productive, and at the same time, we need to reeducate our youth to understand that farming is one of the surest paths to the wealth and prosperity they desire.”


He said there is need for more young people in Malawi’s colleges and universities to be aspiring either to use their education to make farming smarter or to use farming as a foundation for building wealth they can invest in building other industries they are trained in.

“There is no reason a person trained as a doctor cannot build wealth from smart farming and use that wealth to build a hospital. There is no reason a person trained as a teacher cannot use wealth from smart farming and use that wealth to build a school,” he said.

The Malawi 2063 blueprint, which seeks to transform Malawi into a middle income country by the year 2063, has prioritized agricultural commercialization, diversification and mechanization.

The government aims at transforming the agricultural industry from subsistence to commercial farming by encouraging farmers to not only be growing crops like maize only for their households, but engage in large scale farming that will see them using large scale machines in the farms.

Agriculture remains the mainstay of the economy, contributing close to a quarter of the country’s GDP and employing about 64 percent of the labour force.

Close to 80 percent of Malawians rely on rain-fed smallholder agriculture for food.

Though the sector is enjoying huge financial support from both the Government and development partners, production and productivity has remained below its potential and is insufficient to match the increasing demand from domestic and export markets because of low levels of improved farm input use, limited private investment, and low mechanization levels, among others.

Government’s agricultural commercialization drive is eyeing incorporating the use of heavy machinery that will ease workforce that farmers encounter.

The National Planning Commission (NPC), the driver of the MW2063, has prioritized youths as main players in the vision saying they are a fundamental human resource capital.

NPC’s Chairperson Prof. Richard Mkandawire said: “On this journey, our main assets remain the youth, including the girl child. And rightly so, the MIP-1 emphasizes engendered interventions that will promote youth engagement both in action and benefits through-out its Pillars and Enablers.”

“Along with this will be ensuring that our education system and institutions of higher learning are capacitated by both state and non-state actors as purveyors of relevant and employable skills. Skills that should be aligned to the MIP-1 priorities and Malawi 2063 vision generally.”

Agriculture
Synthesis Agriculture moves to resuscitate banana production in Malawi
November 25, 2021 / Noel Mkwaila

As banana production is dwindling in the country leading to massive importation of the fruit from neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, a local horticulture firm Synthesis Agriculture has embarked on interventions to scale up cultivation of the crop.


Production of bananas in Malawi has declined due to the outbreak of the Banana Bunchy Top Disease.
Director of Programmes and Marketing for Synthesis Agriculture Mphatso Chiyembekeza said, among other interventions, Synthesis Agriculture is conducting training programmes for farmers on banana cultivation.


He also said the company has conducted research to come up with resistant varieties of the crop and the current banana suckers their researchers are producing easily adapt to the weather patterns of the all banana growing areas in Malawi.


“Malawi used to produce lots of bananas in districts like Thyolo and Mulanje but the outbreak of the disease has drastically affected production. As Synthesis Agriculture, we intervened through research and later introduced the banana suckers that we give to farmers for free,” he said.

Chiyembekeza said it is worrisome that currently some parts of the country are relying on imported bananas, the development that is draining foreign exchange for Malawi and robbing the farmers of income they could have generated from the sale of the fruit.

“Most of the bananas that are being consumed in Malawi are being imported from other countries more especially Tanzania yet we used to have lots and lots of bananas some years ago.”

Chiyembekeza, however, bemoaned resistance by some farmers especially in Thyolo District to uproot the old banana varieties and plant the new disease resistant varieties.

He, therefore, appealed to stakeholders to assist the company in sensitizing the farmers on the advantages of growing the newly developed varieties.

Synthesis Agriculture has, meanwhile, called upon more Malawians to venture into banana farming to meet local market demand for the fruit.

The Banana Bunchy Top Diseases emerged in late 2009 with Thyolo and Mulanje being heavily affected districts before it spread to other banana growing areas putting banana cultivation at the risk of extinction in Malawi.

As of 2016, it was reported that the disease had wiped off the crop affecting 185,000 banana farming households.
Malawi imports about 20,000 tonnes of bananas per week mainly from Tanzania and Mozambique.

Agriculture
Farmers Union laments gap in agri-financing
November 25, 2021 / Wahard Betha

The Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) says there is huge information gap between the supply and demand sides of agriculture financing in the country saying there is a need for more interventions and coordination to narrow the gap.
FUM made the remarks during the inaugural annual agri-financing conference that was organized jointly with the Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) under the theme; Improving Agricultural productivity and commercialization through access to affordable agriculture finance.


FUM Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jacob Nyirongo said the conference is one way FUM and BAM are utilizing in narrowing the information gap as it gives various stakeholders a platform to discuss and deliberate on how to improve the agri-financial part of the sector.


Nyirongo also said the conference augers well with the aspirations of the country reflected in the Malawi 2063 development agenda which ranks the agricultural sector as the main pillar towards achieving the vision.


He said: “The objectives of this conference are not exhaustive. Our ultimate objective is that through this conference farmers, financing institutions, private sector players and other players along the agriculture value chain should be able to venture into sustainable strategic business partnerships that will fast-track the agriculture transformation agenda.”


“As Union, we strongly believe that challenges that have stagnated our agricultural sector are very diverse hence demanding concerted efforts when attempting to deal with them.”


“It is for this reason that we collaborated with the BAM to initiate the process of creating this platform whereby key players in agriculture sector will be able to have an in-depth discussion on how we can enhance availability, accessibility and affordability of agricultural financing instruments in the country.”


Nyirongo lamented that the country continues grappling with low access and uptake of agricultural financing instruments despite numerous deliberate interventions and programs being implemented by the Government, non-governmental organisations and financing institutions to improve the uptake of agri-financing instruments in the country.

He said the sector will remain rudimentary unless efforts are made by key stakeholders in the agriculture sector to achieve significant increase in productivity, mechanization and commercialization.


In his remarks, Controller of Agricultural Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Alexander Bulirani, said the Malawi Government believes that boosting agricultural production requires investments in irrigation, mechanization, fertilizer and improved seeds.

Bulirani said Malawi’s agricultural sector cannot grow in the categories of agricultural diversification, value-addition and agro-processing if the country continues to experience low access to finance for capital investment.


He said his Ministry has embarked on various interventional programs to ensure that farmers that are lagging behind due to lack of access to finance are assisted.

Bulirani said: “The government is currently implementing the Agricultural Commercialization Project (AGCOM) across the country, a flagship project that is providing the much needed capital to farmers for them to commercialize their production.”

“The government also instituted the Malawi Industrial and Agricultural Investment Corporation (MAIIC) in 2018 mandated to drive private sector-led economic development through mobilization of finance, skills and technology for sustainable wealth creation.”

“My Ministry also launched the Farmer Organization Strategy late last year and through this strategy, the Ministry is collaborating with other stakeholders to build strong farmer organizations that will be able to manage agricultural loans thereby reducing the risk of lending money to smallholder farmers.”

He also announced that the Ministry of Agriculture will soon be collaborating with other Ministries to embark on developing the Agricultural Financing Policy that will significantly contribute towards creating enabling environment for the agricultural commercialization agenda.

BAM Second Vice President Zandile Shaba urged banks in the country to come up with deliberate policies to finance agriculture saying the development can increase the added value of raw materials; strengthen local rural economies, food security and nutrition; and improve the quality of life in many homes at risk of exclusion and vulnerability.

Shaba stressed that policies, incentives and regulatory frameworks that safeguard and promote agro-industries have proven to be highly effective in lifting rural populations out of poverty in many countries.

She said from now onwards the country must take a full value chain approach from the farm to the table by greatly investing in the private sector across the agricultural value chains including modern seed and fertilizer companies, agricultural mechanization, irrigation and water management, warehousing, commodity exchanges, food manufacturing and processing, logistics, cold storage and transport.

Shaba said: “Malawi should not be a consumption center; it must be an agro-industrial center. Malawi must export processed tobacco, not leafy tobacco.”

“It must export specialized coffee with distinctively ‘aroma of Malawi’ instead of coffee beans, and export finished textile products and not cotton lint.”

“With access to finance in mind, we should not forget that modernization of the agricultural sector requires that we improve the functioning of agricultural markets.”

“Rapid progress has to be made on the development of commodity exchanges to improve farmers’ access to markets.”
“Commodity exchanges allow for better price discovery and can be effectively linked to warehouse receipt systems that allow farmers to use their grains as collateral for accessing credit from financial institutions.”


Shaba explained that structured markets are important for balancing capacities and prices of agricultural commodities and broadening of foreign exchange earnings.

She said if the structured markets are supported by export mandates, they could limit informal cross-border trade and increase agricultural exports.

The conference was premised on the following objectives: To provide a platform for open debate on policy and regulatory instruments that can enable effective performance of the agricultural financing sector; to provide a platform to financial service providers to present portfolios of their financing instrument that are tailor-made for agriculture; to provide a platform to farmers and agriculture practitioners to provide feedback on the way agricultural financing instruments are designed and; to provide an opportunity to financing institutions to market their products to farmers and other stakeholders.

Agriculture
WORLD BANK FAULTS GOVERNMENT ON AIP
November 25, 2021 / Jane Gondwe

The World Bank has faulted the Malawi Government on the implementation of the Affordable Input Subsidy Programme (AIP) saying its huge budget is weighing heavily on allocations to development of potential agricultural commercialization and diversification areas such as production of legumes for export.


In the Country Private Sector Diagnostic Report dubbed Creating Markets in Malawi, the World Bank urges Government to increase resource allocation for productive investments in the agriculture sector, including by reviewing and adjusting the AIP to improve efficiency in terms of distribution, targeted farmers most likely to benefit from the subsidy, and fiscal sustainability.

It says though the roll out of AIP and beneficial weather conditions have resulted in bumper harvest, the longer term effects and implications of the AIP need to be closely monitored.


President Lazarus Chakwera led government, launched the AIP in October 2020, as a successor programme to the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) which was being implemented by the previous administration.


“The budget allocation for the AIP is four times that of the FISP in its final year, absorbing nearly half of the overall agricultural budget. This crowds out productive investments in the sector that could promote commercialization and more sustainable farming practices,” reads the report.

It says by widening incentives for maize production, the AIP also departs from years of effort to promote intercropping and diversification into other, more lucrative commercial crops, such as legumes.

“Reliance on a single crop weakens resilience to production and price shocks—unfortunately all-to-common occurrences for Malawi’s farmers,” states the Bretton Wood institution in the report.

The AIP has scaled up government subsidy support making it available to over 3.7 million smallholder farmers from 900 thousand supported by FISP in its final year.

The program aims to boost maize production to ensure national and household food –sufficiency while also creating a market surplus keeping in line with FISP.

The AIP has a budget of more than US$212-million (MK160-billion) representing 45% of the total agriculture sector budget and 7% of the FY2020/21 national budget proposed in September 2020, this is a tremendous increase from the FISP budget which had been brought down to roughly US$ 46.3 million (MK35 billion) in FY2019/20.

In the report, the Bretton ood institution also challenges the Malawi government to reduce leakages and increase transparency in the implementation of AIP to ensure that the programme does not become another mechanism that only generates rents for political and business elites as it was happening in the implementation of FISP by the past leadership.

The report reviews that in the past those with close relations to the political leadership benefited quite a lot from the programme.

Reads the report: “The AIP requires the participation of a broader set of private sector players simply due to the programme’s holding both suppliers and the Government accountable for true delivery of the quality inputs and timely fulfillment of payouts,”


“Success will depend on transparent contracting and enforcement, holding both suppliers and the government accountable for timely delivery of high-quality inputs and timely fulfillment of payments.”

The Bank observes that unlike FISP, the AIP does not provide coupons for legumes. Though sorghum and rice are included in the programme, experience has shown that they are not redeemed by farmers, who prefer maize as part of the cereal coupon.


It says such focus on increasing maize production detracts from efforts to diversify agricultural production.
“Malawi already suffers from an overdependence on maize, which drives soil degradation and increase vulnerability to climate shocks and pests, like the fall army worm,” the report reads.

The Bank also points out that continued focus on maize input subsidies reduces fiscal space to invest in other important sector priorities, such as irrigation and extension services.

It explains that with crop yields highly dependent on precipitation, input subsidies have experienced diminishing returns.

The report reads: “Yields have largely stagnated over the last decade, despite the FISP. The program accounted for over 40 percent of government spending on social protection between 2011 and 2019, yet more than half of Malawians continued to face severe food insecurity.”

“Analysis has shown that shifting some of the input subsidy expenditures into other social protection programs would be more effective in improving food security, while allocating a larger share of resources to investment in irrigation infrastructure and extension services to improve climate-smart agricultural practices would help to boost resilience to shocks.”

Smallholder farmers account for over 80 percent of Malawi’s agricultural production, but very few are market oriented.
More than 90 percent of farmers grow maize but just 10 percent sell it in markets, and fewer than one in five belong to a functional farmer organization.

The farmers farm on mostly small and fragmented plots, with limited and often unclear rights to the land. Tenure for most land is determined through customary systems and community ownership, which reduces the incentive to invest in the land, keeping productivity and yields low.

According to the report, Malawi’s top 10 exports in 2019 were agricultural products, and all but one have become increasingly important to the country’s export basket over the past 10 years. Small but significant steps have been taken to increase total value addition across the sector since the mid-2000s.

Raw tobacco exports, for example, have fallen since 2010, as exporters have increased primary processing to reduce bulk and weight prior to transport out of the country.

Exports of roasted coffee are another good example, becoming a million-dollar export industry in just a few years.
Other rapidly growing exports include pigeon peas, dried legumes, sesame, nuts, groundnuts, and soybean seed.

“At the same time, global demand for some important exports—notably, tobacco, raw cane sugar, and common peas—has been falling since 2015, emphasizing the need for continued diversification to respond to the market,” reads the report.

Agriculture
Youth shape future of Malawi’s agriculture
November 09, 2021 / Chisomo Phiri

Malawian youths have risen up to shape the future of the country’s agriculture sector by exploring opportunities along the value chain in production and markets.

Youths in central Malawi’s Lilongwe district, have teamed up under a project called Youth in Agribusiness to harness the potential of the sector away from subsistence farming to employment creation, economic growth, export earnings, poverty reduction, food security, and nutrition.

Founder and leader of the group, Blessings Banda, says the aim of organization is to make agriculture attractive and profitable to the youth so that they can embrace it and be able to create wealth.

Population growth and an economic slump have disrupted livelihoods in Malawi, where unemployment, mostly youth unemployment, is on the rise.

” This is an intergenerational initiative that offers practical skills to empower the youth by providing capacity building so that they take agriculture as a business and be able to create wealth”, explains Banda adding that the project also aims at opening production and marketing opportunities for the youths as well as lobbying for better market prices.

“We are a conduit that connects youths to access agri-finance,” he says pointing out that the institution will act as a guarantor to cushion participants who may struggle to provide collateral against agrifinance loans.

Banda says despite making some progress, Malawi still has a long way to go in agribusiness, especially in the provision of agrifinance as well as extension services in terms of agritechnical knowledge, expertise and support.

“Luckily, government and other stakeholders are already making partnerships aimed at creating a sustainable business environment for agriculture,” he explains emphasizing that deliberate policies and programs are underway to create good, profitable and promising markets.

Endorsing the project, founder and CEO of a Lilongwe-based enterprise, Mtengowakumunda company, Sylvester Chabuka, reiterates that agribusiness is very important to the social-economic development of the country.

He urges the youth to change their mindsets and seeing agriculture as a business.

Chabuka says that though 80 percent of the country’s population are engaged in agriculture, most do not take it as a business but rather for subsistence.

“Am glad to see my fellow youth, Blessings, implementing this project. We need more youths to venture into agribusiness and explore the value addition chains”, Chabuka says observing that value addition for farm produce has huge demand and potential in food processing.

Agriculture accounts for around 28 percent of the county’s GDP and contributes over 80 percent of the national export earnings, according to the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III.

Agriculture
Low cost biofix fertilisers excite Malawi farmers
October 26, 2023 / Chisomo Phiri

The steep global rise in the cost of fertilisers has challenged Malawian farmers to seek alternative means of enriching their soils for sustainable crop production.

Moving in to fill the gap created in the farming circle by the current exorbitant fertiliser market prices, a local firm, Phindu Agri Solutions, has started manufacturing Phindu Biofix Organic Fertlisers as one way of making sure that farmers access cheaper fertilizers.

Entrepreneur Willington Chatepa, who is the Founder and Managing Director of Phindu Agri Solutions says he spearheaded the initiative not only to provide affordable fertilisers but also to promote traditional methods of managing soil fertility in Malawi.

Phindu Biofix is an organic fertilizer which is processed from organic raw materials such as poultry feacal droppings blended with nitrogen-rich greens like leauchaena and a dose of agricultural lime, which regulates the products’ PH.

“Many people think of inorganic fertilizer as indispensable in Malawi, but I can assure you that they are not as beneficial as most people perceive them to be,” says Chatepa adding that apart from the price element, research has shown that perpetual use of inorganic fertilizers degrades the soil to a state where the farmer is hooked to fertilizer use for eternity.

“As chemicals, inorganic fertilizers destroy friendly micro-organisms, earthworms and others which live symbiotically with farm crops in the soil,” explains the entrepreneur while further observing that “in the end affected crops become dependent on the chemical fertilizers and their toxic elements.”

Chatepa emphasizes that on the other hand, organic fertilizers improve soil properties through its capacity for moisture retention, nutrient balance, pathogen and weed control.

“The soil nutritional balance found in organic fertilizer is also important for fruit vegetable farming for plants like garlic, onion, leafy vegetables, tomato, coffee, banana among others,” he says pointing out that in western countries, organic fertilizers are highly priced than inorganic fertilizers because of their value and harmony with the environment for a healthier planet.

He describes the introduction of other producers of organic fertilizers in Malawi as a healthy development.

“I would like draw government’s attention to consider to include organic fertilizers in its Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) distribution plans “, adds Chatepa.

Phindu Agri Solutions is currently sensitizing farmers in rural communities in the districts of Zomba, Phalombe, Thyolo, Mulanje and Chiladzulu on the importance of using their organic fertilizer.

“We are very grateful for the cooperation we are receiving from government officers in areas we are reaching out,” he says adding that they will continue to reach out to as many farmers as possible.

A 50 Kilogram (kg) bag of Phindu Biofix Organic Fertilizer is currently selling at MK8,000 in two outlets; Njuli in Blantyre (southern region) and Farm Rite in Luwinga, Mzuzu (northern region).

Agriculture
Malawi lagging behind in adopting agricultural technologies
October 21, 2021 / Wahard Betha

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Agnes Nkusankhoma has bemoaned the slow pace in adopting sustainable agricultural technologies by players in the industry.
Nkusamkhoma has, therefore, urged stakeholders in the industry to ensure effective coordination in different projects to scale up utilization of already identified technologies in order to increase quality and quantity of production.
She made the appeal during the Malawi Agriculture Innovation and Technology conference and exhibition which was held in Lilongwe courtesy of the Pan African Learning and Growth Network (PALGNET).
Nkusankhoma said the Ministry has so far conducted numerous studies on technology adoption, which have established that lack of coordination among players in the sector is a major stumbling block.
She said: “There is need, therefore, for more coordination across projects and among different players.
“I strongly believe that partnerships are fundamental to delivering the transformation potential of science and technology. There is need for partnership between government Ministries to ensure that our priorities are synchronized; partnership between government and the private sector will revitalize my Ministry and indeed other public institutions to carry out research.”
“Partnership with development partners will bring the much needed investment in our priority areas. Partnership with non-governmental organizations will ensure that simple technologies reach the most vulnerable people at the grassroots.”
Nkusankhoma also stressed that working in partnership will help in scaling-up innovations, and assist in deepening learning and sharing knowledge.
She said there is a need to build synergies and complementarities to get value for the investments that the players are making into the agricultural sector.
The Deputy Minister hailed the conference saying it has helped to provide a unique platform to nurture, develop and expand the partnership base that will promote use of technologies in the agricultural sector.
Nkusankhoma said; “This conference comes at a time when most African countries, including Malawi are still grappling with the slow adoption of science and technology in agriculture.”
“Over the years, cutting-edge and innovative technologies have been developed throughout the world to improve agricultural performance.”
“The application of science and technology continues to be the essence of what we all know as the Green Revolution in countries like India.”
“We, therefore, do not need to be convinced further that our endeavor to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Number 2 which aims at ending hunger and ensuring access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food by all people all year round requires that we join the rest of countries on this continent in adopting innovative technologies at scale.”
Nkusankhoma said application of scientific knowledge and use of simple technologies will make the nation attain aspirations of the Malawi 2063 on agricultural productivity and commercialization.
She reiterated the wishes of the Malawi Government to ensure that every smallholder farmer is supported by creating an enabling environment and supportive institutions.
Concurring with the Deputy Minister, Norwegian Church Aid and Dan Church Aid (NCA/DCA) Joint Country Director Havard Hovdhaugen said the NCA/DCA Joint Country Program strongly believes that collaboration within the industry is vital in establishing sustainable value chains.
Hovdhaugen said smallholder farmers, the private sector and the consumers, are critical components of the supply chain and that without collaboration the chain is incomplete.
He said: “The private sector plays an important role in strengthening the country’s food systems by providing smallholder farmers with access to inputs and markets.
“NGO sector is expected to play a catalytic role of mobilizing smallholders and introducing locally accessible inputs which will in turn generate demand to stimulate the interest of the private sector.”
“As an organization we want to collaborate with the private sector both as input suppliers and potential off takers so that some of the smallholders be motivated to now begin producing for the supermarkets.”
Hovdhaugen challenged all players in the sector to be innovative and come up with technologies that are simple, affordable, and easy to adopt, and let private sector work together with the NGOs for scalability.
The country director also disclosed that NCA/DCA strongly believes that NGO interventions in the sector can only be sustainable if the private sector is part of chain.
Agriculture sector remains the backbone of Malawi’s economy contributing 42% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 81% of export earnings.

Agriculture
CAMA lobbies cooking oil producers to utilize locally sourced raw materials
October 21, 2021 / Wahard Betha

The Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) says there is need for cooking oil producing companies to utilize locally produced crops as raw materials in order to reduce their cost of production which will translate to the reduction of the skyrocketing price for cooking oil.
The Association says in a Press Statement that it is shocked with continued importation of already refined cooking oil and cooking oil raw materials from other countries despite the country producing enough oil crops to supply the local companies.
In the statement, CAMA condemns what it describes as persistent blackmailing by the Edible Cooking Oil Producers in the country who are seeking unnecessary attention and sympathy from consumers and Government.
The statement explains that the Cooking Oil Refining Industry has for so long preferred to import crude oil from the Eastern countries such as Malaysia, India and others, at higher prices compared to local raw materials grown by local farmers.
CAMA states: “Malawian farmers produce a lot of soya, groundnuts and sunflower used in the production of edible cooking oil but throughout the years our farmers that grow these raw materials have failed to find markets for their produce because the local cooking oil companies opted to buy crude oil from their own countries of origin.”
“Throughout the past years, Malawi was producing its own cooking oil using its own raw materials, we all recall Uniliver or Lever Brothers used to produce COVO and Kazinga with linkages to our local farmers.”
“These were superior products produced locally and you may recall that the vernacular Chichewa word for cooking oil was ‘Mafuta a Mtedza’ meaning it is cooking oil produced from groundnuts. The full name acronym for COVO was Cooking Vegetable Oil-also from local agricultural raw materials.”
CAMA has also expressed shock that the Malawi Government is allowing an Association of Cooking Oil Producers to import all required raw materials from their countries of origin and sideline local farmers’ access to markets.
The Association also says it is worrisome to see the local cooking oil refiners demanding a number of tax incentives from the Government from a product that has no added value to Malawians especially consumers and farmers.
CAMA says it is currently lobbying with Malawi Government to empower local Malawians and link them with local farmers to start producing local cooking oil.
It says: “There is no magic science in the production of cooking oils that would require anybody coming from another planet, the cooking oil refiners are ransoming Government and consumers as if no one else apart from them can produce cooking oils in Malawi.”
“The importation of crude oil is abuse of scarce resources, we are appealing to the Ministries of Trade and Industry to stop giving import licenses to the cooking oil refiners for the importation of crude oil.”
Malawi has huge technical expertise supported by many graduates from local Technical Colleges and Universities that can be empowered with resources to go into production of cooking oil and create linkages with local farmers to start producing locally Malawian cooking oil.
Last year, Malawi Government announced re-introduction of 16.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on some domestic products such as cooking oil which resulted in sharp rise in prices of the commodity.