The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) has called agro-dealers in the country to be well-organised and vibrant if the country is to improve on input distribution.
The call was made recently by AICC acting chief executive officer at Mponela in Dowa during a daylong training designed to equip the National Agro-dealers Association executive committee members with leadership and good governance skills.
The training was part of the Agribusiness Accelerate Initiative (AAI) project which AICC is implementing in Malawi and is aimed at facilitating small rural agribusinesses through provision of an improved range of market services to small holder farmers on a sustainable and profitable basis.
During the training, Lwanda reminded the agro-dealer association the need to understand that Malawi’s economy is agro-based.
She said: “An agrarian economy can only perform well when agricultural production is at the optimal level. It is thus important that efforts that promote agricultural production like having a strong network amongst the agro-dealers be given the highest priority.”
According to Lwanda, efforts to enhance the availability of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers across the country “must be given a closer look.”
She added: “It is a known fact that agro-dealers are located closer to the farmer and provide agro-input and services to the last mile of the input chain. In this scenario, a well organized agro-dealer association can serve as an important tool in fighting counterfeit agro-inputs reaching the smallholder farmers and it is important that the importers, suppliers, NGOs and the government recognizes their role.”
Agreeing with the AICC boss, president of the Agro-dealer Association in Malawi, Edgar Lutepo said time has come for Malawi’s agriculture sector to grow with concerted efforts by various players within the various agricultural value chains.
He said through the agro-dealer association, individual agro-dealers will be able to advocate for implementation of good policies and programs in the agricultural value chain and ensure that smallholder farmers out there are accessing good quality inputs and services.
Through the Agribusiness Accelerate Initiative, AICC has been supporting agro-dealers through strengthening of associations at district, regional and national levels, linking the agro-dealers to input suppliers and training in product knowledge, business management and diversification among others.