MALAWI – The government of Malawi in partnership with the World Bank has announced plans to increase the Agriculture Commercialization (Agcom) financing program from US$95 million to US$235 million in a bid to empower more farmers.
The announcement was done during the 2023/24 National Budget Statement delivered in the Parliament by Sosten Gwengwe, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs.
The AGCOM Project is a Government flagship program for transforming smallholder agriculture from mostly subsistence to commercial.
In addition, the program links together Producer Organizations (POs), service providers (including research and extension), and off-takers in the value chain, in a concept known as a Productive Alliance (PA).
Now in its second phase, the funding is envisioned to drive the country towards food security and export the surplus through supporting farmers under the program, who so far have reached 275 farmer groups.
According to data from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Malawi’s agricultural sector accounts for over 38% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs over 85% of the population.
Given its strategic importance, government has been promoting agriculture commercialization through Sustainable Agriculture Project (Sapp) and Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project (Mwasip).
In the 2022/23 financial year, the government through Sapp disbursed K356.8 million (US$351,000) to 119 farmer groups comprising 4 453 beneficiaries while through Mwasip, the government disbursed K441 million (US$434,000) to 36 farmer groups.
20,000 metric tonnes of Russian fertilizer arrive
Meanwhile, 20,000 metric tons of fertilizer from Russia in Malawi has arrived in Malawi as part of the Russian Federation’s 2022 commitment to help least-developed countries with agriproducts and agricultural expertise to boost food security.
The fertilizer consignment is part of the 30,000 metric tonnes expected by the country but according to the Russian Ambassador, 10,000 metric tonnes were still held up due to sanctions the country is facing following the conflict with Ukraine
While receiving the consignment, Sam Kawale, the Minister for Agriculture expressed gratitude to the Russian Federation for the gesture, saying it is an act of goodwill stemming from good bilateral relations
The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that over 3,000 households would benefit from the donation, reaffirming the government’s commitment to ensuring that the affordable input program (AIP) yields desirable results.
However, Kawale acknowledged that the consignment was long overdue since it arrived when crops are already in the field.
But the minister urged the beneficiaries to either use the fertilizer for irrigation farming or keep it for use during the next farming season.
The Russian Ambassador has since extended an invitation to Malawi to attend the second Russia-Africa summit at the humanitarian and economic forum in Moscow in July this year.