By Tione Andsen
Rice Farmers in Machinga have asked government to consider them in the provision of Affordable Input Programme (AIP).
A farmer for Domasi Rice Scheme, Anderson Chapita disclosed this Saturday at Domasi to journalists during Media tour organized by Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) which is implementing a project in the district called Strengthening inclusive Agriculture Sector Growth and Sustainable Natural Resource Governance in Malawi with financial support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
He observed that for the second year running, rice farmers in Machinga have not been included in the AIP initiative saying the programme was only beneficial to maize farmers.
“Rice farmers want to buy their input at an affordable price hence the call to government and other development partners and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) to help the farmers. It is no longer a secret that farm inputs are now very expensive and local farmers cannot afford to buy them,” Chapita added.
He said rice farmers at the scheme have increased their production after being helped by Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) and extension staffs to source high yielding rice varieties.
“We used to harvest 400kg of rice on 0.5 hectare when we were planting mixed varieties but now with new varieties farmers are able to harvest 600kg from the same piece of land,” the farmers narrated.
Chapita said some rice farmers at the scheme are struggling to access loans saying most lending institutions within their area their terms and conditions are not conducive.
Chairperson for Domasi Cooperative Rice Scheme, Gift Lazalo said the scheme was established in 1971; farmers started planting rice in 1972 and has a membership of 150 but famers association has over 2,000 members.
He said the only potential buyers for their rice are Rab Processors and vendors and they are intending to start packaging their rice.
Chairperson for Civil Society Network, Chipiliro Phiri said they are trying to advocate for improved resource allocation towards agriculture.
He said there was need to improve access to financing and infrastructures so that farmers should be able improve their crop productivity within the available land.