National Agriculture Fair: Women farmers on the move

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Gilia Hara stands at the UN stall enthusiastically explaining the process of making cooking oil from sunflowers as two women farmers from Kasungu fervently write down instructions. Hara is a 48-year-old farmer from Mpherembe, Mzimba in northern Malawi. She has come to the Malawi Agriculture Trade Fair with nine women members from her cooperative, Zuwe Agro-processors.

“I came here to share experiences in transforming the sunflower to other products like oil, cake and soya into soya coffee, but I will leave with more practical knowledge on how to sell our products.”

Hara is one of the farmers who attended the National Agriculture Trade Fair which is organised annually by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in partnership with Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI). The purpose of the fair is to provide a platform for different agricultural value chain players to share information, to create linkages, to access emerging technologies and to explore business opportunities.

Two United Nations Malawi agencies, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (UN Women) supported the participation of farmers at the 2019 National Agriculture Fair as one UN. The UN set up a pavilion as a platform for farmers from rural settings, especially women farmers and selected farmer organizations to interact with various stakeholders ranging from agro-based traders to the general public.

The fair, which is being held under the theme: ‘Agricultural Commercialisation: Basis for Agri-based Industrialisation’ was officially opened by the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa on Wednesday 25th September 2019. Speaking during the official opening Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa remarked that the agriculture fair is meant to support agricultural development in the country.

“Agriculture is important for food, nutrition, and income security in this country. Besides food security, the agriculture accounts for nearly 30 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributes to about 80 percent of the total export earnings and employs over 64 percent of the country’s workforce. The National Agriculture Fair is a platform for farmers, cooperatives and Agro-based dealers to interact and learn from each other,” the Minister said.

He urged stakeholders in the agriculture sector to increase their performance as the Government of Malawi is fully committed to improving the agriculture sector’s performance to graduate from primary industry.