Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Alfred Kapichira-Banda has asked government to remove duty on imported tractor spare parts as high tractor maintenance costs are affecting mechanisation of agriculture.
Speaking during the opening of the 10th annual congress for the body in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Kapichira-Banda said government has already demonstrated that it can remove duty on some farm machines; hence, it should also remove the tax on tractor spare parts.
Said Kapichira-Banda: “The removal of duty on all tractors imported into the country shows the seriousness government attaches to mechanised agriculture. However, the challenge is that most farmers are finding it difficult to purchase spare parts because they are very expensive. Because of this we would like to request government to extend the duty free status to tractors spare parts to increase farmer’s profits.”
On the availability of seeds on the market, the union president asked government to strengthen the Seed Act because many farmers are sold fake seed unknowingly.
“Farmers have been duped on many occasions by some unpatriotic Malawians who sell them fake seed. What is disheartening is that we have not heard about any of the fake seed suppliers being prosecuted by government. We would like government to look at this issue seriously because poor access to improved seed limits productivity gains for many farmers,” said Banda.
Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza, speaking at the same forum, admitted that there are challenges in the seed supply chain; hence, the need for measures to ensure that farmers get quality seeds all the time.
“We have received complaints from farmers on the proliferation of fake seed on the market. My ministry is doing everything possible to tackle this problem. The Seed Act is still under review and I would like to urge seed experts and all actors to ensure that appropriate penalties are included in the seed act to deter would be offenders that inject fake seed into the seed supply chain,” he said.
Chiyembekeza also assured the farmers that government would look into the issue of removing duty on tractor spare parts to enable farmers to get enough profits out of their investment.
“Government is aware of the key challenges limiting our farmers to modernise and commercialise agriculture and we will try our best to make sure that we remove all the bottlenecks affecting farmers. We will engage with the Ministry of Trade, Finance and all relevant stakeholders in government to make sure that we sort out most of the problems once and for all,” said Chiyembekeza.
FUM was formed 10 years ago and its mandate is provide a platform for farmers to engage with different policy actors while at the same time helping them to develop and engage with other agriculture value chain actors.
Of late the union’s leadership has worked on strengthening the voice of various commodity associations such as legumes, cotton, coffee, tobacco, dairy, beef as well as poultry just to mention a few.
The congress was attended by delegates from other Sadc countries, including Zambia and South Africa.