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DNYEN Press

I want farmers to be rewarded for their work - Nankhumwa

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa says he will use his position to ensure farmers are rewarded for their toil.

The minister told state owned MBC he wants farmers to be able to look forward to another new and profitable day after harvesting their crops.

"I would like to be the catalyst to the creation of a motivating environment for our farmers; where they are able to see handsome rewards for their work. I believe together we can do it," he said.

The minister, however, noted that the sustainability of crops such as tobacco and cotton depend on farmers producing high quality and he will make sure this happens.

He said that during his time at the ministry, he will also work with stakeholders to increase cotton production which has been dwindling over the past 10 years and to improve the quality of cotton.

Nankhumwa observed that in the 2014/15 season, a total of 123,019 hectares were used for cotton and total production was 79,289 metric tonnes but in 2016/17 production was only 29,545 from 41,097 hectares.

"This trend is extremely worrying especially when you consider that apart from providing cash incomes to farmers and foreign exchange to Malawi, cotton seeds provide raw material for manufacturing of cooking oil and livestock feeds.

"My immediate preoccupation as I settle down at this Ministry will be to meet all stakeholders in the cotton industry to explore some of the major challenges that are negatively affecting cotton production," he said.

He then assured Malawians that the food security situation in the country is better this year with the country producing 3,391, 924 metric tonnes in 2019 from 2, 697, 959 metric tonnes in the 2017/2018 season.

The minister added that government is implementing plans to eradicate hunger in the long term.

"Within the short-term government plans to procure maize through ADMARC and the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) so that the staple food is available to the people throughout the year.

"In the medium and long term, government is implementing various programs and projects, with emphasis on irrigation farming, to maximize food production," he said.

On the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), Nankhumwa said the Government of Malawi will continue to support farmers through the fertilizer subsidy program in order to encourage development of the commercial fertilizer industry and enhance food self-sufficiency.