TRADE Geared To Promote Farmers' Access To Market

Lombe Lombe - pic by Christopher Sande

Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship, (TRADE) program authorities say they will soon start disbursing the available K25 billion to farmer based organisations and companies to promote market access to farmers in Malawi.

TRADE National Program Coordinator Dr Felix Lombe has told Zodiak that the first batch of service providers to be sub granted under Agriculture Commercialization Innovation Fund will begin accessing the resources in the next two months.

“TRADE program has two financing windows. The two windows are Agriculture Commercialization Innovation Fund and working with non-governmental organisations to promote market access to farmers in Malawi,” said Dr Lombe.

He further stated that apart from these interventions, the program is also equipping agriculture extension workers to have relevant skills to spearhead commercialization.

“As you know, the TRADE program essentially promotes commercialization of smallholder farming but at the same time entrepreneurship can only happen if commercialisation is strengthened. In this SHAPE approach, the major emphasis is on market access to farmers.

“The motto of the approach is ‘grow to sell’. Social inclusion and gender mainstreaming are also part of this. Farmers have to be involved in the identification of the market,” explained he.

Dr Lombe added the approach is extremely in tandem with the organisation’ commercialisation agenda and commercialisation pillar of Malawi 2063.

Senior Agri business officer in the ministry of Agriculture Andrew Chamaza said it is commendable that apart from funding other organisations, TRADE is also equipping frontline agriculture staff including those from Thyolo with skills to link farmers to markets.

“TRADE has for example trained agriculture extension workers from Thyolo to support dairy farmers to get reliable markets,” said he.

At the end of it, TRADE estimates to reach out to 127, 000 households in Malawi as stipulated in the project design.

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