By Taonga Sabola:
MCCCI President, Prince Kapondamgaga, was speaking in Blantyre Wednesday at the start of the 15th National Agriculture Fair.
Kapondamgaga said, though the agriculture sector has potential to transform the structure of the economy if it attracts private sector investments, It continues to face an unpredictable policy environment.
“As we are talking some produce markets have not opened—for example maize markets—despite government putting aside K20 billion in the 2018/19 National Budget for the purchase of such a commodity from smallholder farmers.
“The implication for this is that those who borrowed funds to finance their agriculture production last growing season will not be able to repay their loans this year. Consequently commercial institutions are unlikely to lend to these farmers any more money for the next growing season,” Kapondamgaga said.
He said the uncertainty created by policy interventions is destroying rather than promoting the sector.
He commended Parliament for passing the Control of Goods Bill, passed into an Act in May, and hoped that regulations supporting the new Act would come into force soon.
The MCCCI chief called for a deliberate strategy to promote agricultural exports and value addition for both traditional and non-traditional crops as one way of broadening and deepening forex sources.
The agriculture fair has 126 pavilions, up from 104 last year.
Export Development Fund Chief Executive Officer, William Matambo, said they expect to interact with industry players to enlighten them on facilities available as well as to hear from them on some of the challenges faced.
Africa Cattle Ranch Executive Director, Grant Chimenya, said the fair provides them with a unique opportunity to introduce themselves to Malawians as well as share their vision.
Bayer Malawi Channel Account Manager, Dennis Kachikho, said they would use the fair to explain to Malawians the various offerings of the firm following the merger between Monsanto and Beyer.
Farmers Organisation Limited National Sales and Marketing Manager, Ronald Chilumpha, said the agriculture fair provides a platform for them to showcase various solutions they have to contain the fall armyworm.
President Peter Mutharika opened the fair, which is being held under the theme ‘Access to Finance, Value Addition and Markets: Key to Agri-based Industrialisation’.