Lilongwe - The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa, MP says smallholder farmers play a significant role in socioeconomic development of a country.
Nankhumwa was speaking in Lilongwe on 27th of January 2020 at Nasfam's 23rd Annual General Meeting, where he was the Guest of Honour.
"Agriculture remains the key sector of Malawi’s economy. It is vital for the livelihoods of most Malawians. Agriculture is important for household and national food, income and nutrition security, " explained Nankhumwa.
The Minister futher said that the sector generates 29% of GDP, 65% of employment, and 67% of export earnings.
"Over the year, we have all noticed that this important sector is being challenged by persistent emerging problems like that of climate change, which is 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," said Nankhumwa.
In his Keynote address during the event, Dr. Ted de Jager of South Africa, a long time farmer and President of World Farmers Organisation, explained that to address poverty, agriculture must be championed at all costs.
"The fight against poverty can be won through Agriculture. Wealth creation through Agriculture is a preliquisite to improved economies. Agriculture is a business and farmers must make sure that there is sustainability and profitability especially for smallscale farmers," said De Jager.
He further challenged the government to employ a paradigm shift for youth to look at agriculture as a viable business and not as a past time activity.
In her remarks during the presentation of the five year organisation strategic plan, Nasfam Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Betty Chinyamunyamu said improved innovations and extension systems will enable farmers have access to improved tools of farming and quality farming for improved products.
She said Nasfam will also increase production of rice (Kilombero) for export and local consumption and continue to build membership to enable many farmers improve their social and economic livelihoods. She further commended government for good policies that have warranted free farming activities and marketing of agriproducts and the increase of farmer cooperatives.
In ensuring food products quality, which can be ready for export, Malawi Bureau of Standards Chief Executive Officer, Symon Mandala explained that they are ready to work with organisations such as Nasfam to ensure that more food products are exported to foreign countries for the improvement of the economy. He cited the issue of aflatoxins, which is usually a challenge met by most farmers during postharvest period making it impossible for them to export their products.
The theme of the AGM is “Building a sustainable agribusiness that delivers value and creates impact”. Nasfam established in 1997 with about 15000 farmers has now a farmer base of about 130,000 and aims to increase more within the next five years.