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Thursday, 31 January 2019 05:15

World Bank pumps in K70 million for agricultural transformation

Written by  Ida Kazembe

Blantyre, January 31, 2019: The country’s agriculture sector is expected to turn into big business in the next six years courtesy of a US$95 million (about K70 billion) worth of Agricultural Commercialization (AGCOM) Project to be bankrolled by the World Bank.

The initiative is an attempt to transform the agriculture sector into a high productive commercial division.

AGCOM National Project Coordinator, Dr. Ted Nankhumwa told Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Tuesday the project aims at transforming the subsistence orientation among small and medium scale farmers to commercial scale to ensure increased productivity and promote diversification.

Nankhumwa added the project has put in place measures to increase both land and labour productivity value by ensuring that the former (land), which is tied to low-value crops, is released to strategic crops which will result into high agricultural production as well as diversification.

“AGCOM is also likely to create a well cushioned and resilient agriculture sector which has lately proven fragile to the impact of climate change and environmental degradation,” Nankhumwa said.

Nankhumwa said the project is expected to achieve the desired transformation through building of productive alliances which will support integration of small-scale farmers and emerging farmers into value addition chains.

“The project also promises matching grants to farmers for increased production, yield, quality and sale of agricultural products, improving post-harvest storage and process capability,” he said.

AGCOM would also provide Partial Credit Guarantee Fund (PCGF) which will act as an incentive to commercial banks to provide competitively priced agriculture financing to small scale farmers who are usually viewed as a risky category.

Director of Agricultural Planning Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Alex Namaona described AGCOM as responsive to the National Agriculture Policy which is the national road-map to the sector.

He said the agriculture policy summarizes the success plan yet it falls short of ideas to practical transformation which projects like AGCOM will provide.

Namaona observed that the idea of mobilizing farmers, training and linking them to better markets are aspects bound to promote high diversified and standardized production, a situation which is likely to result in commercialization.

AGCOM will run from 2018 to 2023 targeting livestock, aquaculture, and small and medium crop farmers that are in cooperatives to ensure sustained commercialization.

Meanwhile, the project which involves the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, is currently at sensitization phase which will then be followed by proposal submission by interested farmer cooperatives from across the country.

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