Farmers in Malawi, particularly smallholder farmers, play a significant role in the Malawi economy as agriculture remains important for household and national food, income and nutrition security, Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa has said.
“The (agriculture) sector generates 29% of GDP, 65% of employment, and 67% of export earnings,” he said when he presided over the official opening of the 23rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) at Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe on Monday, January 27, 2020.
NASFAM is the largest smallholder owned membership organization in Malawi. The theme of the two-day AGM is “Building a sustainable agribusiness that delivers value and creates impact”.
“It is an honor for me to be part of this function. A day when farmers and all key agriculture players from all over the country come together to reflect on successes and share insights on moving the agricultural transformation agenda forward,” said Nankhumwa.
The minister noted that in recent years there have been various reforms in the agriculture sector as articulated in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and more elaborated in the National Agricultural Policy (NAP). He said the NAP guides all sector players towards increasing production, productivity and real farm incomes.
“My ministry realized that there is need to have a coordinated approach to agricultural development and in conformance to the Malabo Declaration developed the National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP). The National Agricultural Investment Plan prioritizes interventions aiming at enhancing market access, value addition, trade and access to finance among other priorities.
“I am therefore pleased that NASFAM has aligned its programming to these NAIP focus areas. I listened attentively to the presentation on the new NASFAM Strategic Development Plan IV and the new strategic direction that NASFAM wants to take. I kept thinking, today, we all have witnessed the growth of NASFAM into this area and arena of value addition,” he said.
He recalled that during one of his official engagements as minister, he visited NASFAM’s pavilion and appreciated the various products they are already putting on the domestic market – kilombero rice, groundnuts, chili and beans, saying he was “energized with what an organized farmer organization with the right kind of support can do to create economic opportunities.”
The minister said focus on market development that NASFAM has placed in this new strategic direction is worthy supporting.
“I wish to assure you that my Ministry, together with other supporting Ministries like Trade will continue to create dialogue platforms for farmer organizations like NASFAM,” said the minister.
He encouraged development agencies and private sector to utilize actors like NASFAM who already have the vision for commercializing smallholder agriculture and direct investments not only for production but for marketing infrastructure as well as machinery. He also encouraged NASFAM to continue being innovative and develop new products that would contribute to the import substitution drive.
Nankhumwa, who is also Leader of Government Business in Parliament, noted with sadness that in the recent past, the agriculture sector is challenged by persistent emerging problems, like climate, which are impacting on the contributions of the sector towards Malawi’s development agenda.
“It is for this reason, with a clear understanding that we all have to address these challenges and develop resilience,” he said.
Other speakers at the ceremony included NASFAM Board Chairperson, Vanani Zimba, NASFAM CEO, Dr. Betty Chinyamunyamu, Irish Ambassador, Gerry Cunningham, Keynote Speaker, World Farmer Organization President, Dr. Theo de Jager, PS for Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Grey Nyandule- Phiri, among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :