Vice-President Saulos Chilima says Malawi can stop importing and become a self-reliant nation with investment in irrigation farming and crop diversification.
Chilima cited countries such as Israel which, he said, have improved through agriculture despite having water and land challenges.
He was speaking in Lilongwe yesterday at National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (Nasfam) Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Said Chilima: “Israel is now able to export between $3 billion and $5 billion worth of agricultural products annually. Water and irrigation technologies, coupled with improved ways of farming, have contributed to this success. Malawi can do much better because we have plenty of natural resources.”
The Vice-President, who said Malawi intends to apply lessons from Israel, also urged smallholder farmers to invest widely in production diversification to realise food self-sufficiency.
He said: “We should as a country invest in massive production of other food crops such as cassava, potatoes, bananas as well as cash crops such as groundnuts, soy beans, paprika and others.”
Chilima commended Nasfam for its efforts in promoting crop diversification and irrigation farming.
In his remarks, Nasfam chief executive officer Dyborn Chibonga said Malawi can use its water resources to have two or more harvests in a year.
“People have not yet planted crops, but we should not just wait for the rains. Let us utilise the water resources that we have. Also as the rains fall we should capture that water and utilize it. Then we will be more food secure and export more,” he said.
Also present at the AGM was the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza and Nasfam members, including those from Kaporo in Karonga which came first in the organisation’s best associations.