Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has called for deliberate strategies to promote and commercialise agriculture to broaden earnings, enhance employment and food security.
MCCCI vice-president Boyd Luwe said this yesterday during the official opening of the 19th National Agriculture Fair at the Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre.
He said this year’s agriculture fair recognises that commercial agriculture is an aspect that requires undivided attention and conducive policies and institutions are needed to enhance the ability of individuals, households and production systems to thrive.
While observing that the agricultural sector is dominated by subsistence farming, Luwe said government should provide a conducive environment for operators of mega farms, adding that there could be ripple effects as the presence of large farms will likely increase small farms’ access to improved seed, fertilisers and other inputs.
He said: “Fostering commercially successful smallholders and creating both on and off farm employment opportunities are prerequisites to agricultural transformation.
“But, for this to thrive, market mechanisms need to be strengthened, the business and investment climate improved, and investments made in productive infrastructure that can propel commercialisation.”
Luwe said the country further needs to increase efforts to modernise production and market for goods and empower farmers and agricultural workers to do better, to work smarter, to yield more and to be entrepreneurs.
He said: “As the agricultural sector expands, there will be more opportunities for agricultural value-adding and economic activities in the country. This will in turn encourage a more local agricultural industry. As the industry surrounding the agricultural industry increases, other areas of industrialisation will naturally start to grow.”
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale, who was guest of honour at the event, said government is currently preparing farmers to be part of the commercialisation and mechanisation process for the country to be food-sufficient.
He said: “We are still taking baby steps in the commercialisation and mechanisation.
“We, however, realise that the cost of equipment is on the higher side, but we are coming up with ways to help smallholder farmers to access to equipment and technology to boost our production.”
This year’s National Agriculture Fair, themed ‘Achieving self-reliance through agricultural commercialisation’, has attracted over 121 firms who have occupied 109 pavilions.
Agriculture productivity and commercialisation is one of the enablers of Malawi 2063, the country’s long-term development plan. n