Former Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) board chairperson, has urged Malawi to end blanket fertliser application and expedite the Fertliser Policy to boost agricultural productivity.
The Ministry of Agriculture endorsed the National Fertiliser Policy draft in 2018. The policy encourages soil testing and extension support to improve the use and performance of fertilisers.
Desalegn was speaking in an interview on Friday when he toured agriculture activities supported by Agra in Malenga Village, Traditional Authority Mazengera in Lilongwe as part of his tour of the country during which he also held a separate meeting with President Lazarus Chakwera.
He said the current fertiliser programme, the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) is excellent as it reaches over 3.7m smallholder farmers.
Said the Agra chairperson: “But there is additional work to be done, like ending blanket fertiliser application and expediting the Fertliser Policy. Malawi has been utilising one blanket fertiliser system but the soils across the country are different.
“There is need to apply specific blends of fertilisers for different locations tailored to their needs. That will increase productivity significantly.”
Agra, through African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership, is working with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Fertiliser Association of Malawi and other stakeholders to support the development, and dissemination of appropriate soil and crop-specific fertilisers for smallholder farmers.
Overall, Desalegn said . he was happy with what Agra and the Malawi Government are achieving together in transforming the agriculture sector and assisting farmers to graduate from subsistence farming to commercial
Agra has invested $20 million (about K15.6 billion ) through different phases since 2006, according to Agra Malawi country manager Sophie Chitedze.
“We are more of a convener, connector and catalyst working with various partners. When we identify gaps in the systems, we bring in catalytic funding to help the other partner. There are different partners specialised in delivering different specific services,” she said.
On her part, Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Erica Maganga, who accompanied Desalegn on the field trip, said government appreciates Agra’s contribution to the country’s agriculture sector.
She said: “Government is happy working closely with Agra in developing policies. This is the first time that Malawi has had the fertiliser policy. This trip is important because the chairperson has seen for himself the fruits of Agra’s support in the country.”
Desalegn met Chakwera on Saturday in Lilongwe