Chakwera launches K1.7 billion agricultural mechanisation initiative

By Robert Katuli

Lilongwe, May 16: President Lazarus Chakwera has launched a K1.7 billion Malawi Agricultural Mechanisation Initiative set to create access to agricultural mechanisation technology for smallholder farmers in the country to increase their production and productivity.

The programme, which has been sponsored by Phillip Morris International (PMI), will be implemented by a local organisation, Pyxus Agriculture Malawi.

Chakwera hailed PMI for encouraging farming that is self-reliant by identifying a Malawi company to implement the project to enable farmers in the country have access to machines for mega farming.

“We want partners who can equip us to be self-reliant because free things don’t help us to be independent,” Chakwera said.

He advised the project beneficiaries to take good care of the machines and further asked them to repay the loans so that others should also benefit from the revolving fund.

Among other things, the implementation process includes selected farmers providing 20 percent deposit to access a tractor loan, which will be repaid over five years in four instalments per year.

The repayments will then be deposited into a revolving fund to finance other qualifying entrepreneurs.

Speaking earlier, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale assured the president of his ministry’s commitment to revolutionise the agriculture sector through mechanisation, as envisioned in the Malawi 2063 Agenda.

Kawale hailed Chakwera for winning the trust and confidence of the development partners to come on board and fund various initiatives under his leadership.

Attesting to Kawale’s sentiments, Head of Farm Unit at Ministry of Agriculture, Alfred Mwenifumbo, disclosed that government has this year allocated K4 billion for coordination of mega farm programme.

Mwenifumbo said the Ministry of Agriculture is well equipped to successfully implement this kind of programme and all other initiatives.

Also speaking at the launch, Managing Director for Pyxus Agriculture Malawi, Ron Ngwira, said the transformative initiative will not only benefit smallholder farmers but also their communities and the broader economic development of Malawi.

“We are witnessing an initiative that will build onto many other initiatives towards transforming peoples’ lives.

“The revolving fund will finance numerous entrepreneurs who can provide services to thousands of farmers. The direct benefits are many and the ripple effect is tremendous,” he said.

Ngwira added that the initiative is a clear example of how the private sector can support government to achieve the 2063 strategy.

A representative of the beneficiaries, Temwanani Phiri, hailed the loan facility for its flexibility.

President Chakwera has played a critical role in this mechanisation project, as he has been instrumental in holding discussions with PMI on the project.

PMI responded by funding the purchase of 23 tractors and other implements.

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