By Bertha Chirwa
BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-President Lazarus Chakwera says time for talking is gone and that it is time for action for the country to achieve economic independence through Agriculture.
Speaking during the opening of a two-day 2022 Malawi Agricultural Productivity and Commercialisation Conference in Lilongwe on Thursday, Chakwera hinted that what Malawi lack is not policy direction or investment opportunities or public pronouncements regarding agricultural productivity and commercialization through mega farms but rather implementation of these policies and pronouncements by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“After two years of my administration, the ministry has yet to produce a single mega farm anywhere in the country, and this is a failure I no longer have the patience to abide. For this reason, I am giving the Ministry of Agriculture six months to produce results that the eyes of Malawians can see. We cannot go into 2023 with this business-as-usual approach. Not on my watch.” said Chakwera.
The Malawi leader added that time for action on mega farms and ending reliance on subsistence farming is something that has to start now.
“The time for ending our reliance on subsistence farming is not next year. It is now. The time for producing commercial crops on a massive scale and boosting our forex earnings is not next year. It is now. What I expect after this conference is not another conference for people to hear themselves talk, but action and results. What I expect after this conference is that the coming rainy season will be the start of a new era of farming in Malawi,” he said.
President Chakwera has also revealed that he will be launching the private sector labs through his presidential delivery unit soon to bring together private sector players to bring to light challenges they face in their quest to invest in the country.
“I expect the Minister of Agriculture and his team to be there, not to defend themselves or talk like they don’t need new ideas, but to listen to those who want to invest in mega farms in this country, and to understand what needs to be done as a matter of urgency to unlock and unleash Malawi’s potential to feed the world,” said Chakwera.
Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe, said that his ministry recognizes its important role in providing policy guidance and coordination in the implementation of the First 10 Year Implementation Plan of the Malawi 2063.
He said they have a number of factors lined up in recognizing that the time for diversification is now and that achieving it requires coordination from all stakeholders.
“Private sector should invest in integrated value-addition operations that will offer farmers a profitable market for their produce; and extension services, credit facilities, and farm inputs to support gainful farm production and development partners, Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations should align their support to a wide range of agriculture value chains that offer quick wins and make long-term investments,” said Lowe.
This year’s Conference is being observed under the theme “Driving Agricultural Diversification in Support of the Aspirations of Malawi 2063”.