Lilongwe — The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha has commended Land 'O' Lakes International Development for implementing a project that will promote agricultural productivity and expand trade of various fruits and vegetable value chains.
The minister made the remarks during an official launch of the Malawi Strengthening Inclusive Markets for Agriculture (MSIKA) project at capital hotel in Lilongwe.
MSIKA aims to promote increased value addition and income for several value chain actors by facilitating improved processing, increased crop productivity, improved post handling and storage of the vegetables and fruits namely mangoes, citrus, guava, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and chillies.
"This project directly responds to government strategic direction and is aligned to the national agricultural policy," said Mwanamvekha.
The minister observed that the project comes at a time when Malawi is facing challenges of management and sustainability in the agriculture sector.
"Crop diversification is key to significant investment and sustainable economic growth, this project therefore offers great opportunity for rural farmers and the private sector to flourish in agriculture production," he stated.
Mwanamvekha assured the private sector and investors to create an enabling environment to conduct their businesses by pushing for different policies and bills to be passed in parliament such as the seed act, fertilizer bill, plant breeder's bill and tobacco bill.
United States Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer said it's important for Malawi to be able to attract investors from different sectors.
"This project will help increase commercial agriculture processing and production, as a result ensure economic sustainability and allow farmers to make informed market based decisions on real data provided," said Palmer.
According to the Senior Vice President for Land 'O' Lakes, John Ellenberger, the project is capable of inducing significant positive change and unlocking the potential of agriculture to empower the world and strengthen the capacity of rural farmers.
The five year, $17 million (K12.5 billion) United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded project will be working with 42000 farmers formed into 210 producer groups from Mchinji, Ntcheu, Lilongwe, Dedza and Mangochi.