Opening Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) held its 12th Annual Congress and Policy Conference, Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Hon. Dr. George Chaponda, MP; stressed the importance of understanding the country’s comparative advantage within the tripartite free trade area. The Minister went on to state that political will, patriotism, integrity and hard work were critical ingredients for ending hunger soon. The conference which was themed “Farming for markets and developments: partnerships for increasing farmer productivity, market access and incomes” was held in Lilongwe, Malawi on 09th and 10th August 2016. SACAU’s CEO, Mr Ishmael Sunga, also attended the conference.
The conference explored various subjects such as building resilient farming systems for commercial agriculture; enhancing productivity, production and agro-processing through mechanisation; enhancing agricultural marketing, and linkages between financial institutions and farmers as well as the impact of standards on trade. In his opening remarks, FUM’s CEO, Mr Prince Kapondamgaga, stressed the need for the country to build its export capacity, and called for a shared vision and commitment between farmers and the private sector to drive agriculture into the future. The FUM President, Mr Alfred Kapichira Banda, appreciated the excellent working relationship between the Union and the government.
Delegates shared views on what needs to happen to transform agriculture. Good leadership at all levels was said to be critical for faster transformation of the sector, and it was motivated that farmers should have title to the land on which they farm. Calls were also made for government to not intervene in the market, for farmers to act with integrity and honesty and not seek to cheat the market, and for transparency amongst all players in the market. The use of cashflow-based lending instead of collateral-based lending was applauded as a good idea. This would help with access to finance which still remains one of the greatest impediments to agricultural transformation. Finally, delegates were cautioned not to make mechanisation synonymous with tractors – “mechanisation is appropriate technology”.