Malawi holds a commendable track record having in place indicators for driving agricultural transformation. After increasing farm subsidies under the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) in 2004, the country harvested grain surpluses of over half a million tons per year, subsequently exporting grain to other countries in the region including Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Agriculture plays a central role in Malawi’s economy, contributing to 30% of GDP, nearly 80% of employment, and more than 80% of the country’s total exports. To harness its transformative potential, the Government of Malawi has developed a 5 year National Agriculture Policy (NAP, 2016-2020) and is currently developing its next generation National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP, formerly ASWAp) that will leverage of the strong Government commitment evidenced by the over 10% public budget allocation to the sector to drive implementation.
In spite of notable achievements made to date, Malawi remains vulnerable to shocks and food insecurity. While the main focus of agricultural support, including technology development has been towards the production of maize, diversification of production is still limited, impact of the low production to smallholder farmers still remains due to the low adoption of new technologies, weak post-harvest loss management, limited accessibility to markets, as well as risk management to reduce vulnerability to climate change.
In responding to this, AGRA’s strategy for Malawi prioritizes initiatives that complement the work of other actors to significantly increase smallholder farmers’ income and food security by driving productivity, strengthening linkages between market and production systems, supporting government to deliver on its priorities and supporting efforts to put in place an enabling policy environment that will attract increased private sector investments.
Building on AGRA’s 10 year investments in Malawi, the current strategy prioritizes the following strategic areas:
- Providing technical support to the government in the implementation of the new NAIP and especially reforming the FISP, finalization of the fertilizer and seed policies, and development of a national resilience plan.
- Scaling up farmer and system level initiatives in five priority value chains, specifically seeking to:
- Strengthen seed and input distribution systems as well as farmer advisory support services around production.
- Ensure gender-inclusiveness in expanded access to financial, business development and agronomic services along value chains.
- Support financing of value chains through establishment of incentive based risk sharing system for agriculture lending.
AGRA interventions will focus in central and northern regions of Malawi and will directly impact 0.8M farmer households with an estimated budget of $25M over 5 years.