Government of Malawi has successfully secured a USD22 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to help boost agribusiness in the country.
Minister of Finance Goodal Gondwe say the funds are meant for agriculture infrastructure and the youth in agriculture project which, among others, is expected to produce 500 agripreneurs.
The project is one of the first operations under the Enable Youth programme launched by the World Bank within the context of the FEED Africa initiative.
“You are aware that, as a country we are experiencing high unemployment especially amongst the youth. Even after completing secondary and tertiary education they cannot get employed due to limited job opportunities. In this regard Government is exploring various ways to tackle unemployment amongst our youths one of which is through engaging the youth in the agriculture sector” He said.
The project, targeting over 60,000 youths mostly from the rural areas, will also see two irrigation schemes be developed in Dwambadzi and Linga in Nkhotakota and Nkhatabay districts, respectively; covering a total of about 2,000 hectares of land.
“This project will contribute towards the promotion of economic growth and food security through irrigation infrastructure development, value chain development and expansion of opportunities in agriculture and
agribusiness among the rural youth.” Gondwe said.
In his remarks, AfDB resident representative Andrew Mwaba commended government for moving towards empowering its youth especially by attracting them to farming; arguing his bank believes the next generation of billionaires in Africa will emerge from agriculture.
Mwaba said, “Given the prevalence of agriculture and agribusiness in the African economies, cultivating the interest of the youth in the sector, through initiatives such as this one, is an important step in increasing incomes and expanding the economies.”
The loan recently attracted controversy in Parliament with some quarters sceptical towards it owing to the fact that many youth remain disinterested in agriculture.
But in a separate interview, Gondwe backed the project, “From what I can still recall from my lessons in economics, people flock to where incentives are. It’s just a matter of time before the youth take up the same agriculture sector people claim is not attractive once they see the results.”
The project has four main components that include Irrigation Infrastructure and Watershed Management; Crop Production, Value Addition and Youth Entrepreneurship; Agro-Cooperatives Development for Employability and Project Management and Institutional Strengthening.