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Nkhata Bay farmers excel with AGCOM project grants

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By Yamikani Sabola

Farmers’ cooperatives in Nkhata Bay District which benefitted in phase one of Agriculture Commercialisation (AGCOM) project have hailed the project for boosting their agricultural production through provision of grants.

Speaking on Monday when Minister of Agriculture visited the district to appreciate how the cooperatives have utilised AGCOM grants, chairperson for Toweca Producers and Marketing Cooperative Society, Robson Munyenyembe, said they used part of the grants to procure a tractor, plough, ridger and planter.

Kawale tries out the tractor

Munyenyembe said with the modern implements, their farm operations have been mechanized, enabling them to increase land for soya beans production to 30 hectares this year, from nine hectares last year.

“AGCOM gave us K82 million grants which came in two tranches. We used money received in the first tranche to buy a tractor, plough, ridger and planter at a total cost of K60 million. We also used grants received in the second tranche to build a big warehouse for storage of our soya beans harvests,” he said.

Secretary for Mtoto Poultry Cooperative and Bee Keeping, Dorothy Mzumara, said their cooperative received K30 million grants which they used to buy a two-ton lorry, gas heater and solar panels for use on their poultry farm.

Mzumara however complained about lack of market for their chickens and asked government to protect small holder broiler chicken farmers from big companies which she accused of monopolizing the business.

“There are big companies which sell us broiler chicks, chicken feed and other materials required for broiler chicken production. However, the same companies are also getting involved in growing broiler chickens which they are supplying even in rural markets at cheaper prices which we cannot compete with,” she said.

In his remarks, Kawale promised that his ministry is going to engage Competitions and Fair Trading Commission and Ministry of Trade on the issue of alleged monopolistic tendencies by chicken feed manufacturing companies.

Kawale added that he was impressed that more women and young people were actively taking part in the project and transforming their livelihoods economically.

AGCOM is a government project which aims at transforming small holder agriculture from mostly subsistence to commercial.

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