By Malawi Exclusive
Malawi Government has revised it’s agricultural policy guidelines which among several others will encourage the establishment of farmers’ clubs and cooperatives.
These clubs and cooperatives will act as a link between various government initiatives and the local farmers.
Commentators in the agricultural sector have since welcomed government decision observing that the move will impact positively on agriculture.
The new policy guidelines among other demand that effective this year all farmers should be operating in clubs, cooperatives and farmers’ associations if they are to benefit from government pogrammes such as Affordable Input Programme (AIP) and various extension services initiatives.
Chairperson, of Lilongwe Agri-Cooperative Union Samson Chaziya says: “I would like to applaud government for the decision. As farmers’ representative groups, we are so exercised with these development.”
In vernacular, Chaziya added: “Alimi timabeledwa kwambiri, fertilizer timagula mochedwa komaso ophatikizika ndi dothi. Nthawi zambiri we could spend three weeks tikusaka fertilizer otsika mtengo in the process ndiye kuti kuminda kwathu kosalimidwa. Zinali zovuta kwambiri.”
He said they are very thankful to state President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera because of the good work.
He, however, urged agricultural advisors not to create new groups and Cooperatives leaving aside already existing structures.
Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Agriculture announced the new policy guidelines on Monday and said they are effective starting from June 1, 2022.
A renowned agriculture policy analyst Tamani Nkhono Mvula has also commended government arguing that the new policy guidelines will greatly improve the country’s agricultural sector.
In an interview, Nkhono Mvula said bringing farmers together in a club or a cooperative will help towards achieving Agriculture Commercialisation since “farmers will now be able to easily access credits, extension services as well as markets”.
Nkhono Mvula has since urged government to clearly define the role of cooperatives if the new arrangement is to succeed.
According to Nkhono, this is not the first time the ministry has introduced such an initiative but what has been lacking in the past arrangement was absence of a clear work plan for such cooperatives hence failure to achieve intended goal.
The first independent President Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda successfully used clubs and cooperatives to develop the agricultural sector in the country.
“Formation of such cooperatives needs a lot of close monitoring and supervision through extension services and now what government needs to do is improve capacity of extension workers if this arrangement is not going to face challenges,” said Nkhono.
Nkhono has proposed formation of a special taskforce which will be overseeing the whole process. He said the taskforce should involve players from the private sector, NGOs and all other players involved in Agriculture extension and their roles must be clearly defined.