The Ministry of Agriculture on Monday unveiled eight new tractors with associated implements that include plows, harrows, riggers and planters, for the Mega Farm Support Unit.
In a statement published on his Facebook page, Minister of Agriculture, Sam Kawale said through the contract signed with the Mega Farm Support Unit, the tractors will be made available to any qualified farmer on a credit basis.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has identified the Malawi Agriculture and Industrial Investment Corporation (MAIIC) and the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) to administer agricultural production loans to mega farmers at an interest lower than 15%,” he said.
“A waiver on the farmer’s financial history and collateral will also be considered. The farmers are being assisted in developing a bankable farm business plan as a basis for credit assessment by the two financial institutions.”
He added that his Ministry has lobbied for about K30 billion towards mega farms for consideration during this mid-term budget Parliamentary currently in session.
“In preparation for this year’s groundnut farming, the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with Pyxus, has identified 120 mega farmers with land holding above 20 hectares, who will be supported with seed and inoculant to go into groundnut production.
“The combined land under groundnut production is nearly 5,000 hectares,” he said, adding that in collaboration with Paramount Holdings Limited, the Ministry has mobilized 160 farmers from across the country who will be going into soybean production this year.
“A total combined land hectarage of 7,000 hectares will be put under soybean farming this season. The goal of the Ministry, through programs of its Mega Farm Support Unit, is to accelerate the growth of the Malawian soybean industry by promoting best practices covering the cultivation of high-quality soybean seed, harvesting, cleaning, storage, marketing and consumption.”
Last week, Kawale attended the UK Global Food Security Summit in London where the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a £100 million humanitarian funding being released to countries worst hit by food insecurity including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Afghanistan, and to countries reeling from climate-related cyclones and droughts, like Malawi.
The Minister thus reported that the UK Government announced a £5 million (about MK11 billion) assistance towards the purchase of food for this year’s lean season, saying Malawi’s appeal to the UK government follows the revelation that over four million people will face food shortage in the country.
“The donation is also part of The White Paper the UK Prime Minister announced during the UK Global Food Security Summit, set to address food insecurity globally.
“The paper set out how the UK government will go beyond giving aid money and instead work in partnerships with countries to tackle extreme poverty and climate change.
“The funds will cover programmes that matter for food security, including food, nutrition support and cash support to the most vulnerable households.
“During the summit, I shared steps we are taking to build climate resilience and sustainable food production and how we see international partnerships helping us achieve that.”
He adds to say after the summit, he attended the UK Africa Investor Summit organized by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) where he shared policies, instruments and initiatives Malawi Government has put in place to stimulate growth of the agriculture sector.
He also highlighted measures the Agriculture Ministry is taking that includes improving resilience against climate and environmental shocks; improving efficiency of cross-border trade and the right incentives for private sector participation.
Also on the agenda was the development of enabling infrastructure that is necessary for a thriving food and agriculture market in Malawi and connectivity across the continent.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance Simplex Chithyola Banda announced in Parliament the biggest package for the mega farm development during the mid-year budget statement.
The K20 billion package will see 100 farmers who have 100 hectares or more, with a consolidated land size of 28,000 hectares, access loans for mechanized agriculture and produce value chains like tobacco, soybean, groundnuts, beans, rice and maize to satisfy the domestic and international markets.
MAIIC will administer production loans attracting 15% interest, and a waiver on traditional collateral will be offered while the Ministry of Agriculture is establishing an approval board comprising a selected group of independent members drawn from MAIIC, Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (LUANAR), and the Ministry of Finance to expedite the loan approval time.
“At the same time, 80 young graduates have been recruited as farm business plan developers,” Kawale said. They will soon undergo orientation training to assist the farmers with bankable business plans.
“The government will continue working through the Green Belt Authority, Malawi National Service through MDF, Malawi Prisons, LUANAR, and Press Corporation to upscale its drive under the mega farm initiative.
“Apart from the mega farm funding, the NEEF has also been given K15 billion for commercial farming. This brings the amount of investment in commercial farming to K35 billion.
“Last week, we launched the K500 billion Agricultural Commercialisation (AGCOM) 2 program — the biggest single investment package in the agriculture sector, to boost agriculture production so that we have a food and nutrition-secure nation.
“We are progressing to achieve a better and prosperous Malawi, one step at a time,” said the Minister in his update.