Windhoek : Malawi has achieved the promotion of food security at national and household level and has hit the highest record in food production on the African continent. This was said by Malawi's Director of Agriculture Planning Services in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security George Zimalirana who was speaking at Namibia's three-day Agriculture Investment Conference where he shared his country's experiences on 'Investment in Rural Agriculture Economy'.
Zimalirana said in Malawi, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, and that it contributes about 36 percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employing 85 percent of the workforce and contributing 90 percent to its foreign exchange earnings. It was therefore apparent, he said, that good performance of the economy was directly linked to the performance of the agriculture sector.
One way in which the Malawian government has achieved food security is through a national development strategy called 'Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS)' to guide its development agenda. The main thrust of the MGDS is to create wealth through sustainable economic growth and infrastructure development as a means of achieving poverty reduction. The MGDS is expected to transform the country from being a predominantly importing and consuming economy to a predominantly manufacturing and exporting economy.
In addition to MGDS, Malawi has developed the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp 2010 -2014) which is the country's national agricultural development and food security strategy as well as a prioritised investment framework for the sector. The ASWAp identifies three focus areas of priority investment to achieve sustainable growth and development which are food security and risk management, commercial agriculture and sustainable land and water management.
Zimalirana said the success story of Malawi's National Food Security did not happen by accident. He stressed that when President Bingu wa Mutharika was elected President in 2004, he wanted Malawi to change from a nation that was gripped with hunger and poverty to a nation of hope and people that took full responsibility for economic, social and political transformation for the benefit of all Malawians. 'One such change was to make Malawians believe that they can produce enough food to feed themselves other than begging.
The President, therefore, resolved to turn Malawi from a food deficit to a 'hunger free' nation. Thus, government effectively accorded agriculture development and food security an overriding priority and invested heavily in this sector,' Zimalirana said.
One area in which government invested heavily is in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP). The Government introduced Agricultural Targeted Input Subsidies Programme targeting the poor and low income households that could not afford to buy fertilizer and improved seeds. The aim was to ensure household food security which in turn would positively raise standards of living of the poor people.
Introduced in 2005, the programme has annually benefited 1,6 million resource poor smallholder farmers with access to improved farm inputs (fertilisers, Hybrid maize seed and legume seed) at a subsidised price for the five seasons. In 2009/2010 government subsidised 160,000 metric tons of fertilisers, 8000 metric tons of improved maize seed and 1,600 metric tons of legume seed.
Since the introduction of the FISP, the country has been registering surpluses in maize production with a record surplus of 1.3 million metric tons in 2008/2009. The country has produced maize surpluses of 400,000 metric tons in 2005/2006, 1.2 million metric tons in 2006/2007, 400 000 metric tons in 2008/2009 and 1 million metric tons in 2009/2010.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this service is to collate relevant information on regional integration and trade already in the public domain and to distribute it to a targeted audience. The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the views of TradeMark Southern Africa or its sponsors, clients and partners. TradeMark Southern Africa is also not responsible for any errors of fact contained in the articles.
Malawi shares agriculture success with Namibia
Date:21 September 2010