Agricultural Commercialisation (Agcom) project has expressed worry over low participation of youths in commercial agriculture, saying they are missing out on available financing for transformation.
Speaking to journalists in Lilongwe on Thursday, Agcom national coordinator Ted Nakhumwa said the project provides 70 percent financing in matching grants while 30 percent is borne by beneficiary cooperatives.
Said Nakhumwa: “Agriculture commercialisation is about turning subsistence farmers into commercial farming.
“They [youths] can apply for agriculture-based commercial equipment such as tractors and dairy processing equipment, among others.”
Nakhumwa said Agcom has been working on a matching grant manual, which outlines steps to follow before issuing grants as well as setting up independent evaluation committees to oversee the selection of proposals.
Chronicling progress thus far, he said Agcom, funded by the World Bank to the tune of $95 million (about K70 billion), had only eight productive alliances, but now has established 22 nationwide with 13 more pending final approval.
Nakhumwa said Agcom has 75 concepts that will be developed into full proposals and that by December this year, they anticipate to have 100 productive alliance agreements to beat the target of 175 by 2021.
The project has the contingency emergency component, which is rehabilitating irrigation schemes across the country to ensure rain-fed agriculture is complemented by irrigation.
On his part, Greenbelt Authority acting chief executive officer Amon Mluwira said: “We are encouraging farmers and cooperatives to utilise the already existing irrigation schemes and other land to cultivate more crops during the winter season.”
The Agcom project seeks to graduate 650 000 farmers from subsistence to commercial farming within six years from 2018 to 2023.