The country’s main driver of economy, agriculture, rebounded by three percentage points last year to 3.9 percent up from 0.9 percent, and is expected to grow to 5.1 percent, latest data from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) show.
This is despite the acute food shortages experienced in the country which lead to a surge in food prices especially maize.
But the rebound in agriculture, premised on favorable weather conditions, coupled with an anticipated accelerated growth in manufacturing, electricity, construction, transportation and storage and information and communication, would propel growth to 5.1 percent this year from five percent, the central bank said.
In a report, the bank says improved economic outturn in 2019 was largely attributed to favourable weather conditions experienced in the 2018/19 agricultural season which led to increased agricultural crop production yield.
“Notable developments in the agricultural sector were from Tea production whose output increased to 8.4 million kilogrammes [kg] in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to 5.1 million kg in the third quarter and 10.0 million kg produced in the fourth quarter of 201,” reads the report in part.
As Malawi’s economy largely remains agro-based with the strength of the economy highly depending on the vibrancy of the agriculture sector, analysts have since argued the sector needs to be diversified.
“Government and other key stakeholders in the agricultural sector should ensure that agriculture is diversified, not very depended on rainfall but also help change the mindset of famers to gear their production depending on the market,” said agricultural expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula.
Meanwhile, the first crop estimate figures by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development show an increase in all crops production with maize projected to increase by 8.8 percent from 3 391 924 metric tonnes (MT) in 2018/2019 growing season to 3 691 866 MT in the 2019/20 growing season.