Cotton Ginners Africa Limited (CGAL) has said it is working on modalities to boost its K1.3 billion tractor hire scheme project.
This is a project which complements a similar government scheme that was boosted with 34 tractors by the Indian government last year.
CGAL managing director Spencer Zinyemba responding to an e-mailed questionnaire on Wednesday said that the project, which was piloted four years ago, has been incorporated to ensure operations are timely and cost effective.
“Due to climate weather changes and the change in the landscape of input distribution model for smallholder farmers, farmers were getting inputs on credit from ginners.
“Unfortunately, the default rate was too high which forced most ginners out of business and those who survived have sold inputs on cash, but we revisited our programmes and one of them is the tractor scheme,” he said.
Meanwhile, the company has two tractors which are already in use and are being accessed through the company’s regional managers who consolidate the demand per region and plan accordingly.
According to Dzinyemba eight other tractors will be sourced as the current project unfolds starting from the 2017/18 season.
Secretary for Agriculture Erica Maganga in an earlier interview said that the move to mechanise cotton farming would complement government efforts and initiatives to ensure food security at household level and wealth creation.
Maganga described the programme as a step towards the realisation of a transformed agriculture sector in Malawi saying lack of mechanisation is said to be one of the major challenges affecting the agriculture sector.
“Mechanised farming increases productivity and tractors are crucial to a country like Malawi where human labour is becoming scarce. People’s lives are likely to improve as they will save time spent in farms by offloading it to other farming activities,” she said.
Cotton production in Malawi has been faced with low output with records indicating that in the 2011/12 season, the country produced 100 000 metric tonnes (MT) of cotton before output fell by half to 45 000 MT in 2012/13 season. n