I am very delighted this morning to be part of this historic occasion to preside over the official opening of the 11th National Agriculture Fair.

Firstly, let me join the President of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in welcoming you all to this very important function.

Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Malawi’s economy as it accounts for about 30% of the Gross Domestic Product, 90% of export earnings, and employs about 80% of the total workforce. Agricultural ventures thus need to be well managed if the livelihoods of the farming community and populace are to be improved. In this regard, my Government prioritizes agriculture in the country’s development agenda considering the importance and impact the sector has on the livelihoods of the majority of Malawians.
This year’s theme:- ‘Agriculture: A Basis for Achieving Inclusive Growth’ emphasizes on the need for all players along the value chain to work together to achieve notable economic growth which would trickle down to most poor Malawians. For a long time Malawi has been producing and exporting raw materials with very little focus on value addition. Value addition is a major step towards commercializing the Agriculture sector and that is the only way this country can be transformed from an importing and consuming nation to a producing and exporting one as enshrined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II. This is possible by including all players in the value chain so that our products can compete on the international markets.

Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am reliably informed that Malawi held its first National Agriculture Fair in 2003 and has been holding these events every year since then. I am very pleased with the good quality of the exhibits I have seen and I am confident that this has a bearing on the business deals which will be made at this fair and afterwards. I am hoping that the good quality products that I have seen today are not just for show, but reflect what you actually offer to your customers. Let me encourage all exhibitors to maximise their presence at this fair through sharing of knowledge and experiences in the various areas you are involved in. I also task the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development to be making follow ups with exhibitors to make an analysis of business deals done due to their participation in the National Agriculture Fair.

Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, In order to realise potential economic development of the nation, no player in the agriculture value chain needs to work in isolation. This is why my Government continues to implement targeted policies and programs that are inclusive. One such programme is the Farm Input Subsidy Program which aims at increasing agricultural productivity and improving food security at both household and national levels. The Programme avails seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to resource poor farmers at a subsidized price. I am pleased to inform you that the Farm Input Subsidy Programme will once again be implemented this year targeting 1.5 million resource poor smallholders.

To sustain and consolidate our achievements in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development together with the country’s cooperating partners developed and is implementing a country-owned Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Programme (ASWAP), which is a prioritised investment framework for the sector. The aim of the ASWAp is to improve agricultural productivity and economic development through coordinated efforts of all players along the agricultural value chains. It is very encouraging to learn that the development partners are supporting the ASWAp through various programmes and projects. Notable among these are the World Bank, European Union, African Development Bank, the Flanders Government, Kingdom of Norway, Irish Aid, International fund for Agricultural Development, UK Department for International Development and USAID.

My government will continue to support the agriculture sector to achieve notable economic growth. This is based on the fact that Malawi is an agro-based economy and therefore a vibrant Agriculture sector will enhance more employment in producing and manufacturing companies, increase export base and strengthen linkages to all other players in the sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen, With Climate Change, the future of the agriculture sector in Malawi will mainly depend on irrigated farming. In this regard, my Government intends to revive the Green-belt Initiative to intensify irrigation farming in different localities along Lake Malawi and other perennial rivers. The Initiative will ensure that we get good crop harvest under irrigation and the possibility of getting 2 or 3 harvests in a year to easily achieve commercialized agriculture in the country and also increase our export base.

Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, In addition to irrigation technology, I urge all players in the agriculture sector to be innovative and also to consider to adapt to the changing environment by using modern technologies to ensure increased agricultural production. Specifically, I would like to urge our farmers to adopt the innovations and technologies that are being developed, and some of which I have seen being exhibited at this agriculture fair.
At this juncture let me commend the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development for organising this event.

Finally, I would like to congratulate winners of the various exhibition categories for their outstanding performance in displaying their products and services which have conformed to set standards of this year’s fair. You deserve special recognition and honour for a job well done.
Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, with these remarks it is my duty, honour and privilege to declare the 11th National Agriculture Fair officially opened.

I thank you for your attention and wish you successful 11th National Agriculture Fair.
May God Bless Malawi

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