MALAWI – The President of Malawi has officially launched the Agriculture Commercialization Project (AGCOM) worth US$95 million with financing from the World Bank.

The project which is set to run for six years nation-wide, will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water.

President Peter Mutharika said AGCOM is aimed to transform the agricultural smallholder sub-sector from subsistence to commercial orientation.

Through the project, farmers will be organized in associations that will enable them to have access to financing, well-structured markets and improved feeder roads.

“Malawi is now moving beyond subsistence agriculture into commercial agriculture. Our agriculture way of life has been growing food; let agriculture be our way life for creating new wealth,” he said.

President Mutharika thanked the World Bank, through Country Representative, Greg Toulmin, for the loan, asking all stakeholders to put the funds to intended use.

According to Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa, “AGCOM is aimed at increasing productivity and diversifying both the food and export base of this country. In this regard, the main objective is to increase commercialization of agricultural value chain products.”

This will be accomplished by organizing the small and medium scale farmers, agro-dealers and other input suppliers, aggregators and buyers (retailers, wholesalers, processors and exporters) into a ‘Productive Alliance’ (PA).

“Therefore, unlike other previous interventions, producers under AGCOM will strictly be producing for the markets with clear understanding of the market’s quality demands and ready off-takers to absorb what is produced,” said Nankhumwa.

He said AGCOM will train and build smallholder associations into vibrant cooperatives in order to establish and enforce a business mindset.

Nankhumwa said implementation of the project has already started and there is good progress so far with support from other ministries such as Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

Other stakeholders such as Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), CISANET and Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), the AGCOM Project Implementation Unit are also part of the project and have managed to put in place all systems that are supporting the establishment of the Productive Alliances.