Farmers eye bumper yields with NEEF loans

By Monica Tambala

Farmers in Lilongwe District have hailed the farm input loan intervention by the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) aimed at capacitating able farmers to venture into agri-business as a way of eradicating poverty and improving food security in Malawi.

Speaking during a NEEF loan progress inspection tour, Senior Chief Khongoni, who is also a beneficiary of the farm input loan, hailed government for providing farmers with loans which have allowed them to farm in large quantities and a hope for bumper yields.

“When NEEF loan officers came to my area, they first reached the people in my area and said I could also take a loan so that I set a good example for my subordinates and their counterparts.

“This loan has helped me as I am now farming on a 70-acre land with diverse crops. I request my fellow chiefs to set a good example in their areas. It is not right for a chief to be begging but if we all venture into farming, we can better our lives and the nation,” she said.

Director for NEEF, Jacob Mdelu, expressed delight that the farm input loans are being put to good use.

He said, as a fund, they are encouraged to reach as many farmers possible in eradicating poverty in Malawi.

“Our role as NEEF is to support the nation through economic empowerment. From what we have seen here, we are encouraged by the example set by Senior Chief Khongoni. We encourage all those taking the loans to service them so that other farmers can also benefit,” he said.

Addressing the media, Minister of Agriculture, Sam Kawale said his ministry is ensuring food security by implementing several programs to increase food production for consumption at domestic level as well as national level.

“Last year, we talked about Agricultural Inputs Programme (AIP) reforms and we have been doing these in several ways. The first group of people are those who are benefiting from AIP whose number we’re reducing to transition them to commercial farmers. The second tier are those that we are sending to NEEF.

“These are the farmers who are doing agriculture business, producing different crops, getting loans as low as K250,000 to K2.5 million or more depending on what they are investing in. The third tier is that we are sending to the Agricultural Commercialization (AGCOM) and the fourth tier are those benefiting from mega farmer anchor farms,” he said.

He added that his ministry seeks to transition majority of the people from AIP to commercial farmers in order to guarantee food security at household level as well as at national level.