Government has said it is impressed with maize being grown at Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited’s Nchalo Estate in Chikwawa, but says more commercial farmers should follow suit to cut on maize imports costs.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda said this on Tuesday when he toured maize fields at Nchalo Illovo is growing on a contract.
“We approached Illovo to help government grow maize after it was noted that we need more maize grown locally and they agreed to use part of their land for that.
“However, in the long run we are entering into an arrangement with them and chiefs in the area for people to be given land to be utilised for growing various crops on rotation,” he said.
Chaponda added that government has also liberalised markets for maize exportation, saying this means there are two guaranteed markets for the farmers.
Amid a food shortage that is estimated to affect over 6.5 million Malawians, government reached out to the private sector to produce irrigated maize for sale to government to fill the strategic grain reserves.
In the 2016/17 National Budget, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe allocated K35.5 billion for procurement of maize both locally and abroad, out of which K6 billion was meant for winter cropping by private sector and large-scale farmers.
However, government has been non-committal on the cost-sharing with the private sector to grow the grain to offset this year’s food deficit.
In his brief presentation to Chaponda at Nchalo offices, Illovo’s technical field manager responsible for agronomy Peter Chiipanthenga said they are yet to plant maize on some fields as they are waiting for finalisation of funding.
He said the estate has planted maize on 278 hectares and 227 hectares are still bare.