AGCOM disburses K2.1bn grants to 46 Cooperatives
A total of 46 productive cooperative alliances from 8 districts in the central region on Monday went away smiling after they obtained grants of various amounts from Agriculture Commercialization (AGCOM) to boost their businesses.
The event was held at Mtunthama Extension Planning Area (EPA), in TA Wimbe in Kasungu, and the agricultural productive alliances were drawn from Mchinji, Ntcheu, Dedza, Lilongwe, Nkhotakota, Dowa, Ntchisi, and the host, Kasungu.
Principal Secretary (PS) for Agriculture, Sandram Maweru, described the exercise as a positive indication that AGCOM, a US$95m World-Bank-funded Project aimed at boosting commercial farming and value addition, is on track.
The PS observed that farmers have shown eagerness to venture into serious agri-business by coming up with good business ideas.
“AGCOM only gives grants to proposals that make business sense and from what we’ve seen so far, the farmers have got very good business ideas and concepts,” explained the PS.
He added that by promoting commercialization, AGCOM ensures that farmers go into business ventures through their enterprises.
“We’re looking at market orientation: we don’t produce without finding the market first,” said Maweru, adding, “So the farmers are responding to the needs of the market that is readily available.”
AGCOM 1 Coordinator, Dr. Ted Nankhumwa, concurred with the PS saying the project is “quite on track” and that they have so far beaten some targets.
According to Nankhumwa, the Project has established 212 productive cooperative alliances, which is way past the set target of 200 alliances.
He said out of the 212 alliances, 150 are the ones that have managed to fulfill all the requirements of acquiring grants.
“In addition to a sound business proposal, the cooperatives are also supposed to make a contribution before we make our contribution in form of a grant,” explained Nankhumwa, adding: “So the 150 cooperatives are the ones that have paid their matching contributions.”
However, the 1 Coordinator said the project will have to open another window as they are currently receiving and handling more equally good business concepts.
So far, from the US$30m of the Project that was meant for building the capacities of the productive alliances, US$16.67 (K13.7bn) has been committed to the cause, according to the 1 Director.
One of the productive alliances, Changu Producers and Marketing Cooperative, which is located at Kapinya Village, TA Wimbe, in Kasungu got K30.7m grant to boost their farming enterprise.
Earlier, the cooperative also got another grant which the members used for the procurement of K42million farm tractor and attaching tools like plough, ridger, etc, which the Agriculture PS officially launched on Monday.