Malawi government has lauded the $18 million (K4.5 billion) â€˜Buy Malawi and Food for Progressâ€™ programmes, saying the initiatives will encourage job creation and inculcate the pride of buying local products in people.
Ministry of Industry and Trade principal secretary Nerbert Nyirenda said this during the launch of the two programmes in Blantyre on Thursday, being implemented by Land Oâ€™ Lakes Inc. with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),
The programme will focus on building and strengthening cassava, rice and small livestock value chains and drive domestic awareness and demand for local products and services, according to Land Oâ€™ Lakes Inc.
Nyirenda said such efforts are essential if Malawi is to make strides in the areas of trade, investment and private sector development.
â€œThese efforts will help to leverage our remarkable natural and human resources and seize the unmet domestic and regional demand for crop and small livestock products that are so critical for growing industry, trade and private sector development,â€ he said.
Nyirenda noted that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure quality of the products and that labour conditions from where they are produced are acceptable.
Land Oâ€™ Lakes chief of party (Malawi), Derek Mullen, said the Food for Progress Programme will be implemented in Nkhotakota and Salima to improve productivity and nutrition of over 51 000 Malawians.
â€œThis programme will improve productivity of smallholder farmers by expanding their irrigation opportunities and will take market-based, private sector-led approaches to strengthening Malawiâ€™s agriculture sector.
â€œWe will partner the government of Malawi and private sector to increase the profit potential in target value chains. These efforts will also strengthen the capacity of farmer organisations and improve agribusiness and support services,â€ said Mullen, stressing the importance of buying local products.
He said one of the challenges is that when people go to the market to buy Malawian products, they are not on the shelf or that they are not the ones they are looking for.
Mullen said research has shown that most Malawians feel that foreign products are of higher quality than domestic ones.
But Nyirenda said government will continue bombarding markets with messages on why Malawians should go for local products.
â€œThe reason is that the value-addition that comes out of buying local products will stay in this country. People will get jobs, owners of capital will get their rewards right here in Malawi and taxes from businesses will be used to improve public services,â€ he said.
The programme will also focus on strengthening producer groups, farmer associations and cooperatives so they aggregate their products and access inputs and services as a means of reaching economies of scale and thus increase profits.
Land Oâ€™ Lakes is also working with the private sector and the entire value chain to refine production approaches, product quality, processing options and packaging, business plans for growth and export.