The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) is researching on challenges and opportunities for inclusive value chain development in the cluster sugar cane production in the country.
To achieve this, the institution is consulting with various stakeholders in the sugar cane industry to analyse critical areas which include government’s interest to support the cluster which is a prerequisite for undertaking policy and institutional reforms required, assessing challenges for specific arrangements of a broader value chain through which the cluster can be expanded and proposal on various value chain arrangements in sugar cane production.
Speaking in Lilongwe during the official opening of a national participatory workshop on assessing the challenges and opportunities for an inclusive value chain development in sugar cane production, Luanar vice- chancellor George Kanyama-Phiri said the research has been necessitated by the Government of Malawi’s development of the National Export Strategy (NES) as a critical component of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS 11) and the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) to provide a framework for building Malawi’s productive capacity for export diversification.
Said Kanyama-Phiri, “NES has identified sugar cane products as one of the top three clusters that can boost Malawi’s agricultural exports in the medium to long term. Based on rigorous analysis, the sugarcane cluster which includes sugar, bioethanol, energy and bio plastics was considered to be one of the upcoming and most promising subsectors with various chains.”
According to Kanyama-Phiri government, through the Green Belt Initiative, has allocated 6 000 hectares (ha) to sugarcane production of which 530 ha will be distributed to smallholder farmers, 1 470 ha to medium- scale farmers and 4 000 ha to private investors.
“To stimulate economic growth of the country, the government is committed to diversifying the economy gradually away from agriculture towards a more resource-independent economy, with off-farm jobs absorbing the continuous growing population. Therefore, upgrading of value chains through building upon agricultural production is imperative,” said Kanyama-Phiri.
Luanar, through its Centre for Agricultural research and Development (Card), is carrying out the study in collaboration with the German Development Institute (DIE).
The country has for a long time relied on tobacco and tea as the main traditional export commodities for generating foreign exchange. The volatility of world market prices for these commodities, coupled with the advent of climate change has made the economy of Malawi vulnerable to these external shocks.