President Peter Mutharika says commercialisation of agriculture is one of way eradicating perennial hunger in the country.
Speaking exclusively to The Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe last week, the President said this was reason his administration is planning to start distributing tractors to farmers to gradually do away with the hand-held hoe.
Mutharika said the decision to phase away the hand-held hoe was made during the African Union (AU) Summit held in South Africa last month.
Said the President: “At the just-ended AU Summit, we agreed that for agriculture to go commercial [on the continent], we need to intensify the use of tractors which should gradually replace the hand-held hoe.”
He said India has since pledged to assist Malawi with the first batch of tractors to be distributed to farmers through cooperatives.
Mutharika is expected to take delivery, on behalf of the Malawi Government, of the first consignment of tractors this Tuesday at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.
The new arrangement comes after a similar project in 2012, funded by a $50 million loan from India to buy 177 tractors, 144 maize shellers and other accessories to mechanise agriculture, failed to take off in earnest. The tractors were later disposed of, raising eyebrows from some quarters.