Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has said it will work with farmers in cooperatives to address their challenges, including limited access to quality oriented agricultural markets locally and abroad.
The ministry’s deputy director of value addition Kamia Sulumba said this on Friday in Lilongwe during the handover of three million euro (about K2.5 billion) certified warehouses built with assistance from the Flanders Government, World Food Programme (WFP) and Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE) to six smallholder farmer organisations.
She said warehouses complement government’s efforts towards alleviating the challenges farmers face in terms of storage of their crops.
Said Sulumba: “Government has developed several policies and strategies and is already implementing several programmes to address constraints smallholder farmers face.”
She, however, challenged the cooperatives to ensure that the warehouses are optimally utilised to benefit other farmers and traders who want to store their commodities at a fee.
WFP deputy country director Patrizia Papinutti said the United Nations agency wants to see increased commitment by government to procure directly from farmer organisations.
“WFP would like to build more partnerships with donors to scale up assistance to various parts of the country where potential has been demonstrated,” she said.
A representative of the Government of Flanders Nikolas Bosscher asked cooperatives to consider the youth in their endeavours for sustainable growth and development.
He said: “Cooperatives need to have a variety of people with different experiences for them to grow because when people share views, they become more innovative and creative.
“Malawi, being one of the countries where the highest population is that of the youth, farmers have to take that as an advantage because despite making the youth work in farms, they can be used for other purposes such as soliciting buyers for commodities.”
A representative of the six organisations, Dickson Chirwa, said before the warehouses, they used to store their harvests under trees, thereby losing about a third of their produce.
Apart from receiving the warehouses, the cooperatives were also given money depending on how active they were in the warehouse receipt system in which about K33 million was shared among the cooperatives.
The cooperatives that benefited were Gwiritse from Lilongwe, Tasanganapo from Mzimba, Chibwerera from Mangochi, Chikwatula from Ntchisi, Jumabunguzi from Salima and Chilanga Trust from Kasungu.