It is clear that the second Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II) failed to reduce food security problems in Malawi.
Within the implementation period—2011 and 2016— the sector roughly grew by an average three percent against a target of six percent every year.
According MGDS II review report, at implementation level, the provision of strategic and tangible support to improving agricultural productivity in targeted sub-sectors and agro-based value chains was “crowded out”.
Maize production remained erratic during the period despite the continued heavy investments.
The country continues to struggle to meet the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Regional Indicative Development Strategy (Risdp) minimum target of 2 000 tonnes per hectare.
The MGDS II target to harvest at least 3 000 tonnes of maize per hectare by 2016 remained a dream as yield only averaged 700 tonnes per hectare, which is approximately four times lower than the target. This has left about 6.5 million Malawians in need of food support.
The poor performance in the agricultural sector has mostly been attributed to poor rainfall patterns and also to poor gender mainstreaming and inadequate finance of the strategic areas.
But Civil Society Agricultural Network (CisaNet) national coordinator Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, in an interview, said there is need to develop clear long-term vision which will aid in achieving the targets.
He said: “The agricultural sector has been hit with many disasters. In the absence of clear long-term vision, it is firefighting. We have been dealing with these disasters other than achieving what we intended to achieve.
“The focus of agriculture in the MGDS II was also affected by the implementation of the Economic Recovery Plan which ran for the first two years. When we were going back to the MGDS II, we had lost ground.”
In an earlier interview, chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said the challenges faced in improving the agricultural productivity in the targeted sub-sectors make it difficult to absorb new technological developments.
He said issues of improved agricultural productivity and diversification are related to land size.
The MGDS II review report found that Malawi’s agricultural sector still lacks diversity, adding that despite renewed effort, there remains a disproportionate share of tobacco as a dominant commodity in terms of value of exports, with only little or marginal changes in other commodities.
Agriculture remains the main determinant of economic growth in Malawi, contributing about 29 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), providing 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings. n