The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says total income per person could decline by 21 percent if no advances in yield potential are taken up on-farm or if no further closure occurs in yield gaps.
According to a study titled Effect of Changes in Population Density and Crop Productivity on Farm Households in Malawi by Adam Komarek and Siwa Msangi, IFPRI observes that potential exists to attain modest gains for households if rural population growth slows, yield potential increases, and yield gaps close.
The study results suggest that, even without considering climate change, expected changes in population density and crop prices in 2050 mean that per person crop production and income may fall by 21 percent compared to 2013 values if yield potential and yield gaps remain constant.
However, per person crop production and income could increase in 2050 by eight percent compared to 2013 values if growth rates of yield potential rise for maize by 1.13 percent each year and for legumes rise by at least 0.4 percent each year, and farmers use livestock manure more efficiently.
“Results suggest that even without considering climate change to maintain per person crop production and income at 2013 levels in 2050 substantial gains in yields is needed to offset the effect of population growth.
“The challenge of improving per person crop production and income for farm households in Malawi will require close integration between plant breeders, farmers, and government policy-led investments and interventions,” reads the study in part.
Ironically, Malawi expects to double her per capita income—average income earned per person in a given area—in the next five years from the current level of $380 (K277 billion) with the scaling up of the investment, a government report has shown.
According to the final draft of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III, this level of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is achievable if the country is committed to slow population growth which is currently very high.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Prince Kapondamgaga recently observed that while the agriculture sector remains a biggest single contributor to the Malawi economy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), productivity remains low considering that 80 percent of the country’s population is engaged in agricultural activities in various ways.
He said: “We still see a lot of unwarranted interventions in the sector from time to time, despite advice to the contrary from different stakeholders including ourselves. Sometime, these governments’ interventions have benevolent intentions but end up messing the whole sector,” he said.
Kapondamgaga observed that productivity is critical to achieving competitiveness as it leads to lower costs, and therefore, high profit margins.
Besides food security, the agriculture accounts for nearly 30 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributes to about 80 percent of the total export earnings and employs over 64 percent of the country’s workforce.