Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has called for agricultural diversification to ensure economic transformation.
Speaking during the launch of the ECA 2016 Malawi Country Profile on Tuesday in Lilongwe, ECA Southern Africa director Said Adejumobi said it is high time Malawi moved away from relying on tobacco, which is the country’s main cash crop, bringing in 60 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
He said: “Malawi has a lot of potential [and] I think it is high time you moved away from only depending on tobacco as a major export crop. Malawi has the best fish in the world. Why can’t you capitalise on this?”
Apart from that, Adejumobi said rice can also help to transform the economy.
He said economic performance of Malawi is dependent on tobacco production and export, posing a critical challenge for socio-economic transformation and sustainable development, given the attendant risks of volatility in prices.
“It is, therefore, essential that the Government of Malawi embarks on a well-formulated comprehensive and efficient diversification programme as a matter of urgency,” said Adejumobi.
ECA is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoco) that supports the development of 11 countries across the sub-region by helping them formulate and implement policies and programmes that support economic and social transformation.
In his remarks, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo hailed ECA for the initiative, saying it will help member States and stakeholders with an independent analysis of their countries’ economic and social development status and the progress made towards regional integration.
“The country profile will be a valuable and unique source of comparative data for academics, civil society organisations and policy analysts on key national, regional and international development initiatives and agendas,” he said.
The country profiles include various innovations such as the ECA African Social Development Index (ASDI), which measures human exclusion in six key dimensions of well-being throughout the life cycle.