Agriculture experts says there is to channel investments in agriculture from a coping mechanism to risk mitigation to transform the agricultural sector which is the main driver of the country’s economy.
While government has consistently allocated more than 10 percent of the national budget towards agriculture, beating the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (Caadp) minimum, the sector remains vulnerable and productivity remains inconsistent.
In the recent Country Economic Memorandum for Malawi, the World Bank noted that the country continues to spend heavily on coping strategies such as food aid and emergency cash transfers while investing relatively little in mitigation strategies such as irrigation and extension services.
The report states that given the various challenges and risks faced by the sector, it is important to allocate more funds for investment purposes, such as market information systems, communication and transport infrastructure and agricultural research.
In their concept note for the 2017 annual policy conference, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) noted that the country continues to lack a clear long-term inclusive vision for the sector to guide the development of its medium term frameworks such as the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach and the National Agricultural Investment Plan.
In an interview, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Alfred Kapichira- Banda urged government to invest in agricultural extension services that will enable swift operations of farmers in the rural areas.
“We are saying government should remove this demand-driven concept on extension workers. We want to work closely with the extension workers in the rural areas,” he said.
In the current budget, 33 percent of the K109 billion allocated to the agriculture sector are loans approved by Parliament. n