By Watson Maingo-Mana
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 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.
A representative of Cooperatives, Clement Mpoto, from Kaso Cooperative in Mvera Dowa district said the project is a good deal to farmers, but 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.