Leading the Way in Mega Farms Implementation-Simbi Farm Sets Example
Breaking away from long time hand hoeing to implementing farm mechanization in mega farms is being touted as a reliable key driver for Malawi to achieve exploits in food security and attain her 2063 aspirations.
Prior to the 2020 Fresh Presidential Elections, Tonse Alliance government promised to set up mega farms to enhance food security
Two years in the realms of authority, there are no traits of mega farms across the country.
However, one private farmer seems to have beaten the government.
He is Simbi Phiri who owns Simbi Farm in Mchinji.
The business mogul owns 500 hectare farm where for the past years he has been
planting maize on an average of 180 hectares.
But this year, he is expanding the farm.
The farm’s Finance Manager Pride Phiri told Zodiak Online that this farming season they have planted maize on 200 hectors and soybean on the 100 hectares.
Phiri says they are expecting to harvest over 1000 metric tons of maize and 300 metric tones of soybean respectively.
He thinks implementation of mega farms in the country would increase country’s earnings from exports.
“Government should implement plans of mega farms. Those that already own megafarms should be supported by government through provision of necessary equipment that would make farming easier in the farms. There should be coordination between private sector and government if the plan to implement mega farms is to materialize,” said Phiri.
On the need to add value, Phiri said they intend to open a factory in 2023 at the farm where they will be producing cooking oil and animal feed from soybean that will be harvested at the farm this year.
“Another aspect that need to be considered when thinking of mega farms is value addition. We need to consider value addition and that will begin here. We will set up a factory here that will be producing cooking oil and animal feed. Value addition has proved beneficial around the world and we think Malawi can also benefit through the same,” added Phiri.
Speaking about the developments at Simbi Farm in Mchinji, agriculture think-tank Mwapata Institute is of the view that the government should leave management and governance of mega-farms in the hands of private investors,.
Mwapata Insitute’s Executive Director William Chadza says the Central Government’s role should be limited to the provision of a conducive environment for crop cultivation and animal rearing.
Chadza says in government should ensure there is access to financing, facilitating access to markets and providing support in the form of incentives and investments in irrigation, electricity and other supporting infrastructure.
“As we earlier stated in our research at Mwapata, we think government should provide a conducive environment for operators of mega farms as there could be ripple effects as the presence of large farms will likely to increase small farms’ access to improved seed, fertiliZers and other inputs.
Simbi Farm has set a very good precedence in setting up of mega farms in the country,” said Chadza.
Meanwhile, Controller of Agricultural Extension and Technical Services in the Ministry ofAgriculture, Alfred Mwenefumbo has told Zodiak Online that the Ministry has already set up at least three mega farms through Greenbelt Authority.
He says they have developed a concept that has set conditions for those that want to go into farming on big farms to follow.
“We are talking to various stakeholders about potential funding of ideas of those that have shown interest in developing mega farms
On top of that, we are working with the Greenbelt Authority that were already operating some megafarms.
We think we will be fully operational come 2023,” said Mwenefumbo.
In the 2022-23 national budget, government allocated 447 billion to the Ministry of Agriculture for activities in agriculture, water development and climate change.
Latest statistics from the National Statistical Office indicate that 80 percent of Malawi's population use hand hoes in farming.
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