Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Principal Secretary Ken Ndala has hailed the Sadc Trade Related Facility Project for the on-farm demonstration of yield-improving technologies with oil seed farmers.
Speaking during a field tour at Mpepa Cooperative in Kasungu, he said the project is an innovative way of improving the country’s oil seed exports as well as strengthening the country’s trade competitiveness and implementation of existing commitments under the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Protocol on Trade at the national level.
“I am impressed with what the project is doing with the farmers, and most importantly, the commitment from the farmers themselves. This is an opportunity for Malawian farmers to produce good quality seeds under expert supervision for the export market,” he said.
Ndala emphasised on the need for capacity building to the farmers, not only those that belong to a cooperative, but also to other farmers within the vicinity. He said capacity building would help strengthen the whole value chain system up to processing.
Project manager Chance Mwabutwa said Malawi is one of the 12 participating countries in the Sadc region that received financial support to launch projects that support regional integration, trade and economic development.
“One of our project interventions is the establishment of on-farm demonstration plots where we are teaching the farmers the best farming technologies to ensure maximum yield. At the moment we are working with farmer cooperatives and some farmer groups under the Agricultural Research Extension Trust (Aret) producing soybean, sunflower and groundnuts.
“From demonstration plots, the lead farmers are monitored to make sure that they are not only able to apply the skills on their farms but also teach other farmers. We believe this is one way of also ensuring growth of farmer cooperatives and farmer associations in Malawi.
“In general, the farmer groups will be supported at various levels of the value chain from production, post-harvest handling, processing, linkages to other processors and exporting of processed oilseed products,” he said.
The 12 participating countries are Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The project’s objective is to improve the participation of Sadc member States in regional and international trade to contribute to sustainable development in the region.