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Govt Eyes Cooperatives in New Agriculture Strategies

Farmers to be operating in groups Farmers to be operating in groups - file photo

The Ministry of Agriculture has announced changes in agriculture strategies with an aim to promote extension services through agriculture cooperatives effective April this year.

According to a statement released on Monday, among others, the ministry says it is mandatory for farmers to form agriculture cooperatives or farmer clubs for them to be reached with different projects like the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) and for it to carefully use funds in the agriculture sector.

The ministry's spokesperson Gracian Lungu says formation of cooperatives will help members to identify markets for their produce.

"This has been coming, you know farmers are failing to access markets and extension services but this time with the use of clubs, it will ease the processes," said Lungu.

"The Affordable Input Programme will also be competent in these farmer clubs because they will be easily located," he added.

Meanwhile, an agriculture expert, Ronald Chilumpha has commended government for the move, saying it will help many farmers to benefit in different programs.

"This is the way to go for our agriculture sector, now those to benefit from the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) will be real farmers who deserve it. All value chain will be impacted with these programmes," noted Chilumpha.

The country's agriculture sector has been facing challenges, among them, ineffective extension service due to unavailability of farmer associations.

In March this year, President Lazarus Chakwera announced government's intentions to refine AIP for it to target only farmers in groups.

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