Malawi’s agricultural sector could be transformed into a wealth creation vehicle and increase productivity if the country takes advantage of the food import bill to meet its own domestic food demand.
In his keynote address at the Civil Society Agricultural Network (CisaNet) Annual Policy Conference in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (Fanrpan) chief executive officer Tobias Takavarasha said developing African countries, including Malawi, should take advantage of the import bill by setting up structures that will allow the production of foods that are highly demanded on the domestic market.
Research conducted by Fanrpan shows that despite Africa being home to 65 percent of the world’s undeveloped arable land, the continent spends about $35 billion annually on food imports, a situation which needs to be reversed.
For Malawi, however, the lack of value addition has resulted in the country exporting low-value raw materials and importing high value processed food, leading to increased imports annally.
“Looking at Malawi’s history and current status, it has the potential; it has high levels of skilled labour in the areas of agriculture and has the potential to diversify from maize and tobacco,” he said.
In his remarks, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Principal Secretary Grey Nyandule Phiri said government will transform the agricultural sector through the National Agricultural Policy (NAP), which was launched in 2016 and its corresponding investment plan.
He said “Government launched the agriculture policy which will drive investments in the sector for the next four years. We are almost through with the investment plan.”
Agriculture contributes a third of Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 85 percent of the labour force. n