Mpezeni farmers cry for market
Chipata, April 5, 2013, ZANIS… Small holder farmers in paramount chief Mpezeni’s area operating under the United States Feed the Nation Agriculture Program have complained over non availability of a ready market for their produce.
Luangeni Small Holder Farmers Association chairperson Goodson Sakala says farmers appreciate measures by government and cooperating partners to encourage them to engage in agri business.
Mr Sakala however said that the initiatives are not helping the farmers because of lack of ready market to sell crops.
Mr Sakala who disclosed this in an interview with ZANIS in Chipata explained that out of 10 crates of tomatoes collected by farmers on a daily basis they are only able to sell the produce to Spar supermarket.
He stated that there was need to link farmers to several markets so that they do not get stranded after harvesting their crops.
Mr Sakala stated that the move by the US government to launch programs aimed at improving agricultural productivity and increasing the economic independence of smallholder farmers in the district was welcome.
He however, noted that there was need for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to come up with interventions and strategies that are aimed at eradicating poverty in the rural communities by linking small holder farmers to major markets.
However, in a related development , the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has introduced a deliberate programme to benefit small agribusiness under the smallholder agri business promotion programme.
SAPP acting co-ordinator Kwibisa Liywali stated that 1,200 households in eastern province would benefit from a matching grant facility aimed at supporting activities in the selected priority commodities for agribusiness.
Mr Liywali noted that the ministry was aware that there was limited knowledge with regard to entrepreneurship adding that it had already trained staff at district level to spearhead training of farmers with skills.
He has since called on farmers to engage into entrepreneurship skills like processors to access grants from the funds because only then would the lives for farmers improve as they would have somewhere to sell their produce.
The United States Feed the Nation Agriculture Program trained about 2,000 farmers in improved horticulture production techniques while 280 demonstration plots have been established under the PROFIT project in Luangeni.
The goal of SAPP is to increase the income levels of poor rural households involved in production, value adding and trade of agricultural commodities.
The smallholders are expected to access a maximum of KR50 000 after a contributing 10 percent towards their business venture while those engaged in entrepreneurship would access up to KR250, 000 to boost their agro processing businesses.