Hard-to-reach parts of Chitipa will continue experiencing food shortages unless smallholder farmers have easy access to approved farm inputs to improve crop yield, activists have said.
Foundation for Community Support Services (Focus) programme officer Agnes Simwaka warned against further sidelining of the remote farmers during a meeting with all agro-dealers in the district on Friday.
During the meeting, she rallied the sellers of farm inputs to stop shunning rural areas in preference for roadside trading centres.
According to Simwaka, rural farmers pay extra costs as they have to endure long travels to buy seed, fertilisers and pesticides.
“Those who cannot afford transport end up planting recycled seed. Besides, some unscrupulous traders have flooded unreached areas with fake inputs. This affects crop production,” Simwaka said.
Focus, with almost K33 million from Self Help Africa, is implementing a five-year intervention to improve farm enterprise development, food security and economic empowerment of people in Mwamkumbwa and Rufita extension planning areas.
Most agro-dealers blame the district’s tricky terrain and rugged earth roads for failing to deliver vital inputs to remote areas where the majority of smallholder farmers live.
Happy Kayange of Sapano General Dealers admitted that the profit-oriented businesses sometimes let down farming communities by denying them easy access to vital commodities.
“We will try to overstretch our resources to improve accessibility of these inputs,“ he pledged. n