Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Bright Kumwembe has said sub-sector policies that the country has been using over the years are now outdated.
He said there is need to have a National Agricul-ture Policy (NAP), which will ensure alignment and harmonisation of efforts among different players in the sector.
The agriculture sector has several sub-sector policies, which include the Food Security Policy of 2006, Agriculture Extension Policy of 2000, Irrigation Policy of 2000, National Seed Policy of 1993 and the Livestock Policy of 2006.
Speaking on the sidelines of a one-day national agriculture policy consultation meeting in Lilongwe last week, Kumwembe said the sub-sectoral policies currently in use are disjointed, incoherent and misaligned, leading to loss of resources in government.
“The need to have a national policy is now paramount because agriculture remains an important sector to the country’s economy. This sector contributes a lot to the gross domestic product, creates employment, increase foreign exchange earnings and food security as well as providing nutrition,” he said.
Kumwembe said with a national policy in place, different players in the sector will benefit since consultations involved all the stakeholders, including smallholder farmers.
“We consulted all key stakeholders and partners so that we have constructive ideas that will shape the direction of this very important sector for the country in the medium-term. We did not even leave out the youth because they also have a major role to play in the development of the country,” he said.
Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) board chairperson Rex Chapota commended government for resuming the process of developing the National Agriculture Policy after facing some hitches along the way.
He said, as civil society, they are happy that the process is nearing the end and that the real winners will be farmers.
“We believe that a conducive policy environment with sound implementation strategies is a prerequisite for agriculture development. Malawi has good policy documents in livestock, irrigation, extension and other areas but a lot needs to be done beyond having good policies for these subsectors to tick,” he said.