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Local manufacturer wants partnership on mega farms

Local manufacturer Brown Trailers Manufacturers Company says it wants to partner government in the provision of supplies for the Mega Farms project which seeks to add value to raw produce and boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The plea follows President Lazarus Chakwera’s remarks in his State of the Nation Address on Friday that his administration facilitated the establishment of a private sector tractor hiring association with a fleet of more than 134 tractors which can be hired by farmers any time.

The initiative, according to Chakwera, along with the distribution of 16 new tractors and other agricultural equipment to cooperatives, has substantially increased crop production on the country’s Mega Farms.

However, in an interview yesterday, Brown Trailers Manufacturers Company director Brown Chipapi said his firm has tried all means to engage government on the issue to no avail.

He said: “We have tried all mean to engage government on the issue, but to no avail. It saddens us that as a local manufacturer, with all the capacity, we are able to supply neighbouring countries but not utilised in Malawi.

“We can produce water bowsers, trailers, among others, that can be used in the mega farms project and we are willing to partner government in this initiative as they seek to promote buying local whilst saving foreign exchange.”

Malawi has moved to put 63 000 hectares (ha) under irrigation and unveiled plans to mechanise farming through One-Stop Private Sector Mega Farms initiative that will see 844 medium and large-scale farmers being supported in commercial farming.

Under the scheme, the farmers are expected to grow crops for selected priority value chains to boost agriculture output in the country.

On Friday, Chakwera said the Mega Farms initiative is a cornerstone of government’s commitment to enhancing agricultural production and commercialisation.

“I am happy to report that it has seen significant strides in the past year as we implemented our plans to establish large-scale production units for priority crops,” he said.

During the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election in 2020, Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima promised to establish mega farms to add value to raw produce and boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

Malawi requires $3 billion per year to meet import requirements, but only earns about $1 billion from exports dominated by agricultural produce, according to Reserve Bank Malawi data.

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