President Lazarus Chakwera has encouraged Malawi farmers to form cooperatives to benefit more from their investments in agriculture production.
The President made the remarks on Friday when he, on behalf of the government, received 12 metric tonnes (MT) of maize from Dowa-based Mdapepuka Farmers’ Cooperative to be distributed to families facing hunger in the country.
He said: “Getting into cooperatives has several advantages which include improved access to agricultural financing and extension services; purchasing agricultural inputs in bulk, thereby significantly reducing the cost of inputs; increased ability to identify output markets for agricultural produce and increasing farmers’ bargaining power thereby selling farm produce at relatively better prices.”
Chakwera said he is committed to see to it that the donation is put to good use to bring relief to those whose food crops have not flourished, and those who need relief from hunger presently.
The farmers’ cooperative made the donation following a surplus maize yield realised from last growing season’s Affordable Input Programme (AIP).
Chakwera said the development has given him fresh courage to ensure that the AIP continues and succeeds again this year.
The President observed that what Mdapepuka Farmers’ Cooperative has done in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 farming seasons is a clear indication that with proper support and strengthened farmer organisations, local farmers can transform the agricultural landscape.
Said Chakwera: “The Malawi 2063 recognises the significance of increasing agricultural productivity and commercialising agriculture towards the creation of an inclusive, wealth and self-reliant nation.
“From the story of the Mdapepuka Farmers’ Cooperative, it is clear that attaining the aspirations of the Malawi 2063 starts from the grass roots where farmers organise themselves into cooperatives.”
On his part, Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe said the cooperative focuses on production of maize, soybeans and poultry at a small scale.
Members of the cooperative accessed agricultural inputs under the AIP and cultivated about 28.4 hectares of land collectively, yielding 106.5MT of maize, from which they donated 12MT to government. The donation is a surplus from their production after reserving 94.5MT for their home consumption.
With financial support from Seedco Malawi, the cooperative was registered on 27 April, 2021 and has 71 members of which 35 are men, 30 are women and six are the youth.