Stakeholders Asked To Do More In Value Addition Promotion
Agriculture stakeholders in Nkhotakota District have been asked to do more on provision of technical support in promoting value addition of agricultural products.
Justin Chitedze, who is the Managing Director for JHZ Enterprises and Conservation, observed during a three day agriculture fair for the district that lack of expertise is one major challenge hindering farmers in this area.
The fair which was held under the theme Enhanced Agricultural Value Chain Addition for Accelerating Commercialization, brought together players in crop and livestock production as well as fisheries.
"Value addition is important. For instance in legumes, we can export products with more profits. Even packaging of our products, we need to do better", said Chitedze.
On activities to do with the fisheries sector, Chitedze said his organisation has partnered with other players under the USAID funded - Restoring Fisheries for Sustainable Livelihood in Lake Malawi - REFRESH Project , in conserving fish.
"We are working with fishermen to address the challenge of overfishing. Currently, we are supporting them in poultry farming. We have also trained a number of groups before providing them with chickens", he said.
Benson Sumani, Program Manager for Salima Agricultural Development Division – ADD, which is responsible for agriculture activities in
Salima and Nkhotakota districts, said use of farmer clubs, is the best way to promote value addition of the products.
He said knowledge sharing can easily be done through the clubs.
"They can produce and be able to bargain for higher prices because they will be speaking with one voice. So, as far as we are concerned in Salima ADD even here in Nkhotakota, our extension workers are geared towards formulation of the clubs" , said Sumani.
At the fair the ADD Program Manager was particularly impressed with processing of cassava into flour which was showcased by some farmer clubs.
"They have come up with various agricultural products and we have seen some who have started processing of the products. We have seen for example, cassava flour, that is value addition", he said.
Chairperson for the District Agriculture Extension Coordinating Committee - DAECC, Joyce Banda, said she was impressed with the quality of products that were exhibited at the fair.
Banda however said there is need to formulate guidelines at the district level, to ensure value addition on agricultural products is a priority among farmers.
"If someone is not following those guidelines, there should be fines. As Nkhotakota, we can contribute to value addition and the lives of farmers can be improved" , said Banda.
During the 2022 Nkhotakota District Agriculture Fair, a number of bodies working in the sector, were recognized for exceptional performance in various agricultural activities.