The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has asked development partners to provide money to boost the horticulture sector which has the potential to grow the agricultural sector.
The ministry’s assistant chief agriculture officer (horticulture) Mathias Nkhoma said this on Wednesday in Salima on the sidelines of a four-day market oriented smallholder horticulture empowerment and promotion project (Ma-Shep) technical training for extension staff organised by Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
He said: “Horticulture is a sector that many donors have not funded over the past years and yet it has huge potential. If farmers grow vegetables, they can harvest three or four times and markets are readily available.
“There is no house that does not consume vegetables and fruits on a daily basis; hence, our plea to donors to critically support this area.”
Salima Agriculture Development Division chief agriculture extension officer Mphatso Magombo said Ma-Shep Project is important as it links farmers to markets and other service providers.
“This project is important because it touches all aspects of vegetables and fruit production and how farmers can deal with pests and diseases. Not only that, farmers are also required to find better markets before they grow crops,” he said.
Ma-Shep project manager Pearson Soko said it is easy for farmers to repay loans because they can harvest four times a year.
He gave an example of farmers who got K800 00 loan from a bank and within four months, they had repaid after growing irish potato.
Countries such as Uganda and Kenya are reaping huge rewards by exporting flower and fruits to European countries, earning foreign exchange.
Ma-Shep is a five-year project and is being implemented in Ntchisi, Mchinji and Salima districts.
Recently, British High Commissioner Holly Tett said her government is supporting the horticulture sector to stimulate economic growth.
The agriculture sector contributes 33 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), according the 2018 Malawi Government Annual Economic Report.