Smallholder rice farmers under Domasi Irrigation Scheme in Machinga have asked the government and Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) to help them identify companies and organizations with which they can enter into contracts.
Speaking in an interview on Monday, the farmers said contract farming could help them increase and improve their access to resources and increase agricultural productivity of farmers.
The scheme’s chairperson Anderson Chapita disclosed that small-scale rice farmers face a number of production and marketing constraints, such as limited access to services, including effective extension and rural credit, which are crucial pre-conditions for upgrading commodity value chains.
“Contract farming could also help us access better markets for our crop and guarantee us adequate supply of raw materials to agro-based industries. Currently, we are selling our yield to the vendors who usually over uncompetitive prices,” he said.
Meanwhile, FUM is leading a consortium of three other local organizations, namely Center for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA), Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET), and the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), in the implementation of Strengthening Inclusive Agriculture Sector Growth and Sustainable Natural Resources Governance in Malawi project.
The project is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is designed to increase agricultural production and productivity, access to markets and agricultural financing, and achieve increased policy environment for commercialization and natural resource governance.
The consortium has also supported the farmers with various trainings in rice production methods and seed multiplication in order to improve farmers’ access to quality seed.
FUM Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist, Derrick Kapolo, said the project is leveraging on various interventions that have been implemented in Malawi and is largely address various farmers’ constraints through capacity building efforts, improved agricultural extension delivery, improved technology transfer, agriculture policy reform and implementation, and better transparent and sustainable natural resources management.
“Using a collaborative approach, the project brings together various stakeholders in the agriculture sector including farmers, farmers’ organizations, non-state actors (NSAs), the private sector, civil society organizations and government ministries and departments,” said Kapolo.
He said Domasi Irrigation Scheme is one of the schemes the consortium is working with to achieve its goal of inclusive and sustainable agricultural-led economic growth through agricultural transformation in Malawi.
Kapolo said that the project is already working on facilitating strategic business linkages between the scheme and offtakers. This is in line with the second objective of the project.
The scheme has 500 hectares of which 470 hectares are being used. The scheme has a membership of 2, 057 farmers of which 1, 058 are male while 999 are female.
The current annual tonnage for the scheme stands at 230 metric tonnes, but the farmers say there is potential to increase the tonnage.