The European Union (EU) has pumped in over 6 billion kwacha to improve sugarcane production among small holder farmers for two years in Chikwawa with hope to achieve economic growth at house hold level.
EU Head of Delegation, Ambassador Marchal German said he was confident that the Milling factory, Illovo sugar limited will make correct decisions to enable existing farmers to prosper over the coming years.
German made the remarks on Wednesday at Francis Village under chief Maseya during the launch of Phata Corporative out growers phase II sugarcane irrigation scheme and concern Universal Capacity Building Project phase III.
He said: “My organization wishes to see poor farmers’ lives transformed and be in a position to make long term investments.”
He called on Concern Universal that as it was providing sugarcane training and the new Phata Phase II sugarcane farmers were providing sugarcane to Illovo to do so against a backdrop of challenging times ahead for the sugar industry in Malawi.
“In the SADC region and in the world, the sugar market will be more competitive in terms of prices. However, I am confident that after 10 years of EU support in the sugar sector, many smallholder efficiencies in sugarcane production have been achieved.
Sugarcane farmers coming on stream with the Phata Cooperative grant will be ably equipped and trained to be just as efficient in their sugarcane production as existing sugarcane farmers providing quality cane to the mills in a timely manner. I am also confident that Illovo will make the correct strategic decisions to enable existing farmers and the projects will to prosper over the coming years.” He added.
He further stressed his gratitude towards EU’s investing in sugarcane farmers through Concern Universal adding the average net income had risen by more than 100% from MK415, 000 in 2010 to MK840, 000 in 2014.
“Your literacy levels have increased by 90.2% and your sugar yields have increased by 6.4%. Your sugar cane farming knowledge has allowed you to be more efficient in the fields and as a result you have contributed to the increase in exports of sugar from Malawi.
In particular 2014 was a bumper year in terms of export value with $76.9 million dollars earnt for Malawi. The foreign exchange that is earned in sugar sales is extremely important for Malawi to continue to grow economically,” said German.
He then called on the communities to guard against vandalism and theft of the infrastructure that was being purchased for the production of sugar cane adding “please guard against laziness in your fields: when it is time to weed, do so, when it is time to apply fertilizer and chemicals, do so and when it is optimum time to harvest, do so without delay.
The condition of your fields is the product of an investment, in this case, grants from European taxpayers. Make sure you take advantage of the training and advice that has been offered to you and continues to be offered to you, to ensure that you and your families have a far more productive and prosperous life in the future,” he said.
On her part, Concern Universal, Country Director, Heather Campbell said for the past five years, the EU and solidaridad have supported the capacity building of the sugar smallholder growers and their management companies in Chikwawa and Dwangwa districts of Malawi through a two phase project that has been successfully implemented by Concern Universal Malawi.
“The overall objective of the capacity building project has been to reduce poverty of out growers through increased income. Over 2,500 farmers have directly benefitted from the project and the (that ends on 31 October 2015) and the lives of the sugar cane growing communities have also improved significantly,” she said.
On the other hand, 3,100 farmers have been trained on the A to Z of sugar can production and other crops, and that 63, 000 sugar cane community members have benefitted from civic education programmes, 33 trainers have been established, 980 hectares are now irrigated with an additional 300 hectares to be irrigated under the new Phata Phase II scheme. Sixteen individuals involved in Sugar Research Institution.
On their part, Chief Maseya and Chikwawa Central Parliamentarian, Zaheer Gaffar Issa commended EU for helping to alleviate poverty among smallholder farmers in the district.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :