Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza has urged players in the agricultural sector to be innovative and adapt to new technologies.
The minister made the call on Thursday at Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre during the official opening of the 12th National Agricultural Fair under the theme Accelerating Agriculture for Economic Transformation. The fair will close on Saturday.
Chiyembekeza said adoption of modern technologies will help to deal with challenges related to over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture thereby realising Malawi’s dreams of becoming food secure and Africa’s food basket.
He said: “In order to deal with challenges related to over-reliance on rain fed agricultural production system, government has taken measures to revive the Green Belt Initiative, which aims at intensifying irrigation farming in different localities along the Lake Malawi and other perennial rivers.
“The initiative will ensure that we get good crop harvest under irrigation and the possibility of getting two or more harvests in a year.”
Chiyembekeza urged farmers to adopt and implement the recommended innovations and technologies being developed, some of which are on display at the agriculture fair.
“Why would we want to import when we have potential in the country. These exhibitions are telling us one message; that there is tremendous potential in Malawi to exploit opportunities in both production and value chain activities to take advantage of local, regional and international markets,” said the minister.
He reiterated that agriculture, which adds about 30 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), contributes to the well-being of the country through food and nutrition security for productive and healthy lives.
In the 2015/16 National Budget, the allocation to the agriculture sector accounted for 15 percent of the total fiscal plan.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Newton Kambala concurred with the minister on the need to accelerate agriculture production for speedy economic transformation.
“There is need for tailor-made investments in irrigation infrastructure, agricultural research and development and adaptation of new technologies in addition to the more conventional and broader public investments in access roads and electricity,” he said. n