Standard Bank - BOL to Wallet

TRADE says Commercialization Drive on Right Path

A farmer using a TRADE funded Multi crop Thresher at Machichi in Mchinji A farmer using a TRADE funded Multi crop Thresher at Machichi in Mchinji

Tremendous progress has been registered. Several new bridges have been constructed, roads rehabilitated, storage facilities equipped and farm and value addition equipment bought to support rural farmers in Malawi.

Some of these projects were noted in Blantyre, Thyolo and Mchinji when, alongside other journalists, I went to appreciate the contribution which the Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) program under the Ministry of Local Government is making.

At Mangunda Milk Bulking Centre in Thyolo, a treasurer there, Elias Piringu, told us that TRADE gave them a grant of K107 million which enabled them to buy solar equipment for generation of power.

“Due to frequent blackouts, we were losing a lot of milk to the extent of throwing away 4, 000 litres a day. But now we have solar [power] that assists us to store the milk,” said Piringu.

Other farmers, Elias Kalilombe from Mpemba in Blantyre, Janet Nkhoma from Nkhunguyembe and Sylvester Gresemo from Machichi Cooperative in Simphasi in Mchinji shared similar success stories.

“As Nkhunguyembe Cooperative, we used hoes to work on a 10, 000-hectare piece of land but with the new tractor and other ploughing equipment which we got through TRADE, we will be in a position to cultivate on 100, 000 hectares to grow sun flower, soya and maize,” said Nkhoma.

Gresemo said they now have a multi-crop thresher, thanks to TRADE adding that they also produce cooking oil from sunflower and soya.

Apart from grants to farmers, TRADE has also constructed new bridges, brick perimeter fences for the commodity storage facilities and rehabilitated various rural roads so that farmers access markets easily.

TRADE program Knowledge Management and Communication Specialist Oscar Roy Ulili says TRADE is committed to achieving agriculture commercialization.

He explains that the organisation set aside over K20 billion each year to implement infrastructure projects and provide grants to vibrant farmer-based organizations.

“As you have seen, in terms of infrastructure, we have already spent K2 billion kwacha to build brick fences for the commodity storage facilities, constructed about 30 new bridges including Matope and Nasundu bridges at Mpemba in Blantyre and Chizinga at Mphuka area in Thyolo.

“On the part of grants, out of over K20 billion, we have so far disbursed K700 million to six farmer-based organisations for them to procure farm equipment like solar panels to provide power for milk storage, tractors and multi crop threshers,” explains Ulili.

TRADE program is implemented in 11 districts of the country including Blantyre, Thyolo, Lilongwe, Kasungu and Rumphi.

The program will be extended to new districts of Mzimba, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Ntcheu and Dowa with the mandate to align it to Malawi’s Vision 2063, focusing on agriculture.

The six-year program is funded by the International Fund for Agriculture Development, OPEC Fund for International Development and the Malawi Government.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 29/05/2024

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