The World Bank has said it is impressed with the impact the Agriculture Commercialisation (Agcom) project is having on Malawians and the economy at large.
World Bank Country Manager Hugh Ridell was speaking in Lilongwe yesterday during a review meeting of the project.
He said it was encouraging to note a number of value chains in which farmers are producing at large scale, making more money and being able to market widely than before.
“This gives me a sense of hope because Malawi’s future is agriculture and agriculture commercialisation means jobs. It means making foreign exchange in agriculture. It means value chains. It means domestic urban markets but also regional markets.
“What we, at the World Bank, want to do based on the success of what we have seen this morning is to invest more in this type of project,” Ridell said.
He said the Government of Malawi has asked the World Bank about the Agcom II financing and that they are looking at the successes to build on and bottlenecks that need to be fixed.
He was hopeful that Agcom II could be delivered within the next financial year between July 2022 and June 2023.
Agcom National Coordinator Ted Nankhumwa said the project was chasing a target of 200 productive alliances and that, currently, it has established 151 alliances.
Nankhumwa said Agcom has 229 business plans which have been approved.
According to Nankhumwa, the 151 established alliances are those that have already met their 10 percent contribution.
“We hope that we will surpass the target,” Nankhumwa said.
He expressed hope that Agcom II could attract more donors beyond the World Bank.
“We have already identified the missing small and medium enterprise in the current Agcom but we may also consider the numbers. At the moment, we look for a minimum number of 20 people in a group.
“But some medium scale operators have been asking to say, is it possible to have a maximum of 10 people and still access the funding,” Nankhumwa said.
Director of Agriculture Extension Services in the Ministry of Agriculture Jorome Chimg’onda Nkhoma said the government has drawn a number of lessons that could be replicated in Agcom II.
Among others, Nkhoma said in the beginning, farmers could not understand the overall goal of the project but that, through increased media engagement, farmers are now able to appreciate what is needed.
He added that the focus of Agcom has been smallholder farmers but that, over the years, some new categories of farmers with interest have emerged.
Nkhoma said, under Agcom II, the authorities would like to focus on emerging commercial farmers and serious commercial farmers apart from the usual smallholder farmers.
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