CAT and FUM urge govt to mechanize agriculture to maximize production and productivity

The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) and Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) have urged the Malawi Government to seriously consider mechanizing the agriculture for the sector to meaningfully contribute to the attainment of Malawi 2063 development agenda.

Apparently, agriculture is one of the main pillars in MW2063, which President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera launched in January 2021.

However, key stakeholders and players feel the sector is ill-equipped to deliver the much-desired results.

Nkhoma–CAT is premised at transforming agriculture systems in the country by giving farmers access to inclusive innovation in agriculture science and technology–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a field day visit at CAT-Bunda Smart Farms, FUM president Frighton Njolomole observed that Malawi is using archaic agriculture policies, which cannot take the country anywhere near the MW2063 dreams.

Njolomole, who is also president of the Sugarcane Growers Association, said the traditional intensive human labor power cannot transform the country into what it aspires to become.

“No programme of national development can ever succeed unless it is built upon agriculture transformation and more specifically, the rural sector in general, and its agricultural subsector. Mechanisation has the potential of enhancing production,” he tipped.

However, CAT Executive Director Macleod Nkhoma said he was impressed with the level of acceptance and uptake of modern agricultural technologies among smallholder farmers across the country.

Nkhoma said the project has received overwhelming response from farmers who want to join others who have already embraced modern farming techniques in combating the adverse effects of climate change.

“The goal of CAT is premised at transforming agriculture systems in the country by giving farmers access to inclusive innovation in agriculture science and technology,” he said.

Smallholder farmers on a learning viist to CAT-Bunda Smart Farms in Lilongwe–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

A 24-year-old farmer from Bunda in Lilongwe, Janepher David Lepheter, commended CAT for involving the youth in its programmes, saying this is crucial for sustainability of the project.

Lepheter, just like her fellow youthful farmers that have benefitted from this project, attested to the fact that it has changed their mindset and way of doing things in their farming profession.

She said the trainings CAT has been organizing for them have relevant and pledged to market the knowledge they acquired on crop diversification.

“The fact that we have more youth attending such training signals an increased interest from the youth side to venture into agriculture, especially modern agriculture. But most of us are lacking necessary resources for production. Government should intervene by coming up with integrated strategies that should address the multiple factors that hamper agriculture sector including making the capital intensive equipment available in EPA across the country to be leased or hir3ed at a subsidized fee,” she said.

CAT is a five-year project being financed by the Foundation for Smoke Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative (FSFWATI).

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