Malawi hails Alliance One for its crop diversification initiative

Government has commended one of the country’s tobacco buying companies Alliance One Tobacco Malawi for engaging into various crop diversification programs at its farms in Kasungu where it is has planted some 25 hectares of sugar-beans and 8 hectares of pigeon peas respectively.

Alliance One managing director Hugh Saunders

Leaf production director Ron Ngwira briefing the deputy minister Massi

Speaking after inspecting the crops at Alliance One’s Lisandwa farm in Kasungu, Deputy Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Agrey Massi said he was impressed with the company’s crop diversification initiative because it has the potential of helping this country to achieve food sufficiency.

Massi also said that legumes such as beans and pigeon peans have the potential of boosting the country economy as they are in high demand both within and outside the country hence it was important that Alliance One thought it wise to grow such crops at a larger scale.

“I have been impressed with what Alliance One Tobacco is doing here at Lisandwa farm where they are also growing different crops such as sugar-beans and pigeon peans which are in high demand at both local and international markets hence this initiative will also boost the country’s economy,” said Massi.

The deputy minister however urged the company to consider teaching people from the surrounding villages to the farm on how they can grow crops like beans and pigeon peans using irrigation mechanisms.

In his remarks Alliance One Malawi Managing Director Hugh Saunders said his company decided to grow the legumes as one way of practicing crop rotation which is one of the recommended practices in agriculture production.

According to Saunders his company grows a special variety of flue-cured tobacco during summer through irrigation and after harvesting, they grow different crops such as sugar-beans on the same land as one way of practicing crop rotation so that the land should always be suitable for farming.

“Few years ago we were allowed by government to grow a special variety of flue-cured tobacco which is needed by the Chinese after majority of local smallholder tobacco farmers failed to grow it due to the tough specifics which this Chinese buyer demanded and one of them being to grow it in dry-hot conditions.

“So normally once we have harvested the tobacco we plant other crops such as beans so that the land should not remain idle as we wait for the next farming period,” Saunders explained.

According to Saunders his company has so far recruited about 500 people from the nearby villages who are working at the Kasungu based farm.

Apart from Lisandwa, the deputy agriculture minister also toured Mpale farm in Dowa where Alliance One has planted different trees.

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