JB for complete Malawi agricultural sector restructuring, distributes cows in Dedza

President Joyce Banda has said that her administration is determined to put a lot of emphasis on restructuring the agricultural sector to enhance economic growth, employment and poverty reduction.

She was speaking on Monday at a development rally she addressed at Njonja Primary School Ground in T/A Kachere’s area in Dedza after handing over cattle to selected families under a-cow–a-family project in the district.

The need to streamline farming, President Banda stated, was informed by the realisation that the agricultural sector is the key source of growth and employment in the country.

Statistics attest to President Banda’s assertions: The agricultural sector accounts for about 36 per cent of Malawi’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP), 87 per cent of total employment and supplies more than 65 per cent of the raw material requirements for the manufacturing sector.

President Banda giving a cow

The restructuring process will target six key challenges that her administration identified upon entering office in April 2012.

They are dependency on one crop and rain, small farm sizes without scale, climate variability and population pressures, lack of modernisation and commercialisation, and lack of coordination among stakeholders.

“To solve these challenges, my Government’s strategy is to modernise and industrialize the sector to move from subsistence farming to managing farming as a business,” said President Banda.

In order to realise this, she said, her administration has established the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction to fast track the support for establishment of a transformative framework in the Agriculture Sector that will help to address systematic bottlenecks to existing agricultural programming and practices.11

The pillars to lead this task include, diversification of cash crops; expanded irrigation including small irrigation projects and the growing of two crops a year; innovation and technology where we must introduce good quality seeds, modernised farming systems that take into account conservation agriculture; ommercialisation of the agricultural sector through the introduction of Anchor Farms and linking them to out grower schemes with the smallholder farming families; guaranteed price and secure markets through contract farming; and Farmer organizations including farming clubs and farming co-operatives, among others.

So far, President Banda said, considerable progress has been registered in the establishment  of the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty Reduction.

Through this her administration has established six  anchor farms – Kasungu, Mchinji, Mbalachanda, Mangochi, Nkhata Bay and Thyolo; eamed up with civil society and private sector; success in the tobacco industry and appeal for farmers to start preparations early and cooperate with Ministry of Agriculture and Tobacco Control Commission in the implementation of Integrated Production System (IPS); working in the multiplication, breeding and distribution of seeds; engaging Agro-dealers to support farmers with supply of inputs; teaming with Feed the Future of USA to raise agricultural productivity, household incomes, and nutritional status for 270,000 households; and a Cow a Family Project has been implemented in Phalombe, Ntchisi, Lilongwe, Zomba, Mulanje, Nkhota Kota, Nkhata Bay, Mzimba, Rumphi, Mwanza, Neno and Balaka and Dedza districts.

The Head of State explained that these projects target rural communities and urban poor who are identified as vulnerable groups particularly women who benefit through increased household incomes, and diversified food sources.

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