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Chakwera says his govt is moving towards mechanizing agriculture

The State President says he has discussed with a Swiss company to start lending tractors

President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera on Monday officially opened the 2024 tobacco season with a promise that his government is determined to mechanize the agriculture sector to improve and increase production and productivity.

Chakwera said on his recent visit to Switzerland, he held discussion with a machine manufacturing company on a possible investment in the agriculture sector in Malawi.

“I have put a plan for this company to start a program to help farmers get the opportunity to rent tractors, because without tractors and irrigation equipment, the farming of large Mega Farms is difficult. I am doing this because when we talk about Malawi 2063, we are talking about the need to grow our economy to the level where we can rely on ourselves,” said Chakwera.

President Chakwera said agriculture, especially tobacco production, plays a crucial role in the social and economic development of the country, in generating foreign exchange the country needs to import various goods and services.

President Chakwera captured at Chinkhoma Auction Floors

At this point, the Malawi leader said it was sad that some city and two dwellers, parading as economic experts, look down upon the sector.

“We have, in our towns and cities, people who know how to talk about economic matters and call themselves experts, but the real experts in economic affairs in Malawi are the Malawians who are bringing wealth to this country, the Malawians who are pushing for forex to come to this country, and the Malawians who are bringing wealth and forex to our country. Ant that number one is a tobacco farmer,” said Chakwera.

“Here in the village, I, Vice President Chilima, and all the ministers are always looking for ways to help the tobacco farmers so that someone does not take advantage of you. Also, I would like to thank the companies that buy our tobacco here in Malawi for listening to us when we tell you that the prices for buying tobacco will be good for the farmer. I would also like to thank all of the tobacco companies who came to the State House when I invited you two weeks ago to discuss the tobacco prices this year, and I am hopeful that the results of the relationship that we have fostered between us in government and you tobacco buyers will help you tobacco farmers to produce delicious products this year,” he added.

President Chakwera therefore urged tobacco buyers to offer competitive prices for the leaf.

Speaking to journalists earlier, Chairman of Nyasa Tobacco Buying Company, Konrad Buckle, assured President Chakwera of his company’s commitment to fulfilling a vision to empower tobacco farmers by obligating buyers to offer competitive prices for the leaf.

Buckle shared Chakwera’s lamentations that, for decades, tobacco growers were being ripped off due to low prices offered to them.

The Nyasa Tobacco Company boss said time had come for the growers to reap from their sweat.

“First I want to thank His Excellency the President. He had this vision that the farmers need to start getting value for the crop they produce because farming is a very difficult job. And his vision was to create alternative markets for the farmers to make sure that there’s competition on the floor and to make sure that it’s fair value to the farmers,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s a sad farmer on the floor. Everybody is extremely happy and the President came and walked and inspected our direct sales, and I think this is the vision that we have to have,” added Buckle.

Asked whether his company would reduce the prices the President had left the premises, as has been the case with other companies previously, Buckle assured journalists that this will not happen.

He said his company recognizes the effort the farmers put in place to produce the leaf, stressing that the only way tobacco buyers can reward them is through competitive prices for the leaf.

“I want to tell everybody that we are here to stay. We are in partnership with the government. And we want to make a difference to the growers. The growers need to start seeing benefit in this,” assured Buckle.

In his remarks, President Chakwera said tobacco remains an important crop to Malawi’s economy.

He, therefore, asked the buyers to offer honest and competitive prices for the leaf.

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