Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) says the country’s National Agriculture Policy (NAP) implementation has failed to bring intended results as there are still glaring gaps in the production and productivity in the agriculture sector.
Government implemented the NAP from 2016 to 2020 alongside the National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP). However, Cisanet observes that the picture at national level shows that there are glaring gaps that are impeding what would have been successes of the two blueprints.
Cisanet national director Pamela Kuwali, in an interview, said if everything that is in the NAP was to be translated into action, there would be a huge transformation in the agriculture sector.
Kuwali said: “The fact that we are still producing more maize in comparison with other value chains, but still have over a million people hungry, shows that somehow our policies are not working.
“We really need to have a few strategic value chains so much that if we invest in them, we will get results that will spill over to the majority of the population because the things we have selected are catalytic”.
She was speaking in the context of a Cisanet project called Strengthening Inclusive Agriculture Sector Growth and Sustainable Natural Resource Governance in Malawi implemented in collaboration with Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa) with support from the Usaid, through Farmers Union Malawi (FUM).
The main objectives of the project are to improve agricultural productivity in line with NAIP; enhance mutual transparency and accountability in non-State actors and local council budgets in line with the NAIP.
Kuwali noted that there is a huge disconnect between what is happening at national and local levels in terms of sustainable agricultural investment.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Erica Maganga said the NAP is under review after its expiry last year, to align it with the Malawi 2063 (MW2063) aspirations.
MW2063 recognises agriculture productivity and commercialisation as the main pillars for the country to realise its vision of becoming an inclusive, wealthy and self-reliant nation.
Maganga said: “Agricultural commercialisation in Malawi, especially in rural areas, is hampered by low agricultural productivity, inadequate farmer mobilisation and capacity, skills; access to markets, market failures, inefficiencies in value chains, access to finance and unconducive business environment”.
During a recent media tour courtesy of the Cisanet project that is supporting establishment of cooperatives, Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi secretary Dymex Funsani said following government agricultural policies there is hope for the best in cotton production as farmers have adopted the new hybrid seed called Mahyco.
He said the hybrid seed has doubled the yield output per hectare and that it is resilient to harsh weather, pests and diseases.
Agriculture development extension coordinator at Rivilivi Extension Planning Area in Balaka Godfrey Magowera said with the growing population, against few extension workers, it is hard to reach majority of farmers as such field open days have been used to reach out to them.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy—accounting for 30 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the National Statistical Office (NSO 2020).
However, the Ministry of Agriculture states that at an average of 4.1 percent in the past 10 years, Malawi’s annual real GDP growth has been slow and lags far behind the regional and global trends.