MALAWI – Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has launched a large-scale crop production initiative dubbed “mega-farms,” aimed at boosting the country’s agricultural-based economy and helping end persistent food shortages.
The move follows that, Malawi has long faced food shortages at both national and domestic levels each year despite various efforts to boost agricultural production.
According to The Observer, the country has been putting efforts into agricultural programs to boost production as the Targeted Inputs Program, in which farmers buy seed and fertilizer at cheaper prices but it is yet to bear fruits.
Speaking during the televised launch of a mega farm in northern Malawi, President Lazarus Chakwera said the program aimed to improve the country’s foreign exchange reserves and make the country food sufficient.
The president said that the country is shielding itself from future food insecurity following a report last month from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, that revealed that 4.4 million Malawians, representing 22 percent of the country’s population, are facing food shortage.
He added that the Mega Farms project aims at cushioning the country from the reports detailing the food shortage scenario is expected to worsen from October to March 2024.
President Chakwera said 800 medium- and large-scale farmers have so far registered to grow various crops in over 63,000 hectares of land to be cultivated during this year’s growing season.
Hailing the project, Chakwera said that it will also rescue the country from forex challenges that the country has faced in the recent past as a consequence of debt left behind by past administrations
“This approach is also a game changer for our economy as a whole because most of our forex revenue comes from farming. It is clear that our long-term solution has to involve boosting and intensifying agriculture productivity for exports,” he noted
Minister of Trade and Industry, Simplex Chithyola Banda, said the ministry has already found markets for produce from the mega farms.
He said in June of this year, the Malawi government agreed with a foreign bank to build industrial parks in the capital, Lilongwe, and also the commercial capital, Blantyre.
“These industrial parks aim to engage in agro-processing and value addition. What it means is therefore the mega-farms already have the markets to offtake their produce, and this will spell the boom of economic growth in this country,” said Banda.
On his part, the executive director of the Farmers Union of Malawi, Jacob Nyirongo, said he hopes the mega farm program will help solve challenges facing small-scale farmers, like access to markets.