Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has called for the need for a deliberate strategy to promote value addition for both traditional and non-traditional crops, describing this as a tool in broadening sources of foreign exchange.
MCCCI president Prince Kapondamgaga made the call yesterday during the official opening of the 15th National Agriculture Fair at the Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre.
He said this year’s agriculture fair recognises value addition as an aspect that requires undivided attention, adding inefficiencies in the sector, among others, have been responsible for low productivity.
Said Kapondamgaga: “Low productivity means very little left for commercial purposes after domestic consumption. Such low productivity levels arise from the fact that the vast majority of agricultural activities in Malawi are undertaken at subsistence levels, on very small pieces of land.
“Over the years, such low levels of productivity have derailed industrialisation efforts and prevented the promotion of sound agro-processing industries in Malawi.”
In this respect, the MCCCI president said government needs to encourage farmers to become commercially viable by aggregating their pieces of land and renting the enlarged pieces to commercial farmers.
Kapondamgaga added that the country needs to identify a finite number of agricultural commodities with a well defined competitive advantage and come up with a well-structured strategy to produce such commodities, not only aiming at producing primary commodities as we have been doing ever since, but looking at a value-chain approach.
In his speech, President Peter Mutharika said government is currently preparing communities to be part of the rural industrialisation project.
He said: “In our vision, we know that industries need electricity. That is why we are investing in energy generation now more than any time in our history. That is why we are taking electricity to rural communities. We know industries need skilled labour. That is why we are establishing community technical colleges in every part of the country.”
This year’s National Agriculture Fair, themed Access to Finance, Value Addition and Markets: Key to Agri-based Industrialisation, has attracted over 100 participants who have occupied 126 pavilions. The fair runs from September 12 to 15.