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Dr George Chaponda interacts with farmersMinister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr. George Chaponda has stressed that Government is taking a keen interest in developing and diversifying the country’s agriculture production, expand its export base, and improve livelihood of the producers.

He made the remarks on Thursday when he presided over the opening of the National Rice Conference in Lilongwe which was organised to strengthen the market linkages in the rice value chain.
“Allow me to highlight that the Government of Malawi under the leadership of His Excellency, Professor Peter Mutharika, takes a keen interest in developing and diversifying the country’s agriculture production, expand its export base, and improve livelihood of the producers,” said Chaponda.
He acknowledged support his Ministry receives from partners such as the National Rice Development Platform (NRDP) formed in 2013 and it is facilitated by the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC), the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) and ICCO. NRDP was formed to enhance collaboration of the stakeholders of value chain to promote the development of a competitive rice value chain in Malawi.
The Minister noted that the massive investments from various partners working in the rice subsector have greatly contributed to the attainment of the aspirations of the National Export Strategy (NES).
“This is why our Ministry has provided dialogue forums for the sector players in agriculture. In addition to the NRDP, Government has provided a platform for dialogue through the Access to Finance, Input and Information Technical Working Group as well as the Warehouse Receipts and Commodity Exchange Technical Working Group where there is a close interface among sector players,” he said.
Government provides support towards rice production in the country by focusing on the promotion of irrigation development and the Minister observed that by supporting irrigation infrastructure development such as rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, Government is creating a conducive environment for private sector investment and local community participation in rice value chain development.
The National Rice Development Platform developed the National Rice Development Strategy (2014-18) which seeks to address challenges faced along the rice value chain which include: lack of coordination amongst different players in the rice value chain; limited access to input, financial and output markets for smallholder rice farmers; low productivity of smallholder rice farmers; ineffective functioning of cooperatives; and poor storage facilities among smallholder farmers.
“Let me call upon on all sector players to join hands to implement strategic actions outlined in the rice development strategy. Let us all strive to help our farmer to realize increased income and export earnings through sustainable rice production, marketing and utilization,” concluded Chaponda.
NRDP chairperson Professor David Kamchacha stated that the organization will focus and continue its work in the 2016-2017 towards increasing production and productivity and improving marketing efficiency along the rice value chain.
Kamchacha explained that NRDP realises myriad challenges impacting the whole value chain and that it will require collaborative efforts among the value chain players to address them.
Kamchacha urged stakeholders in the rice sub-sector to continue working together, share knowledge, maximise skills and resources available in order to promote rice production and trade in Malawi.
He also recognised and thanked the Business Innovation Facility for supporting NRDP to hold the conference whose goal was to develop strong rice market through strengthened market linkages; to provide a platform for dialogue among the stakeholders on marketing issues and an opportunity for business to business meetings among the value chain players; and to for sharing the prospects of Malawi rice on the international market.
Jayson Phiri, treasure for Msenjere Rice Growers Association from Nkhotakota and Marriam Bwanali, vice secretary of Lifuwu Rice Growers Cooperative in Salima who attended the conference expressed joy for talking to potential customers saying the conference gave them an opportunity to strike deals.

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