Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has called upon government through Ministry of Agriculture to address numerous challenges which hard to reach farmers are facing in the country.
The call was made in Lilongwe on Tuesday during the National Farmers’ Policy Conference which will precede its 12th Annual Congress under the theme Farming for Markets and Development: Partnerships for increased Farmer Productivity, Market Access and Incomes.
FUM chief executive officer Prince Kapondamgaga said the theme for this year builds on the issues raised during the 2014 and 2015 policy conferences that unpacked the concept of farming for markets and development.
Kapondamgaga gave statistics on how agriculture is contributing to the Malawi economy.
“The sector accounts for 30 % the GDP employs about 80 % of the total labour force of which 70 % of the labour are women and provide 65 % of total income for rural people bringing 90 % of foreign exchange earnings as well as support 65% raw materials for the manufacturing industry,” said Kapondamgaga.
Kapondamgaga asked government to demonstrate tangible commitment in restructuring the agriculture economy, saying currently tobacco has remain a major commodity on the political ladder.
But Kapondamgaga was quick to commend government for demonstrating strong commitment in some critical policy areas.
FUM President Alfred Kapichira Banda said the recent suicide of Dowa Tobacco Farmer shows that things are not good in the country is as far of plight of farmers are concerned.
“As Minister of Agriculture are you aware that farmers receive their money after a month after selling their maize to ADMARC, is Minister aware that there are issues that you need to address on contract farmers which is known as IPS, we are just hearing that you are developing strategy but why should strategy take 10 years to develop?” queried Kapichira Banda.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and water Development Dr George Chaponda opened the conference at Bingu International Conference Centre (Bicc).
In his remarks , Chaponda said soon government will enact Agricultural Policy which has been undergoing different reviews.
Chaponda said government is committed to uplift plight farmers of both commercial and those on small scale and that government intend to modernize and commercialise agriculture as one way of facilitating interventions that transform the smallholder sector through promotion of agriculture co-operatives and contract farming.
During the Congress, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Deputy Governor (Economic Services) Naomi Ngwira gave a key note address challenging Malawians to act now.
Ngwira said Malawi cannot prosper until hunger issues are fully addressed, saying poverty is a choice and not a destiny.
She also talked about the issue of over population.
“Its time to think twice as a country we are producing too much its time to slow down, we are putting a lot of pressure to our land and on all our resources,” said Ngwira.
Over 700 delegates are attending the events from both within and outside Malawi.
The two-day policy conference will have parallel sessions in which the main presentation will be followed by a panel discussion.
Other key presenters expected to guide discussions in the planned parallel sessions during the policy conference include, Zachary Kasomekera, MacDonald Mwinjilo, Gideon Onumar, Cephas Chabu and Davlin Chokazinga.
Other speakers includes Jimmy Koreia Mpatsa of Mpatsa Trust as well as Davis Manyenje General Manager of AHLX.
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