Agriculture experts have called for a redesign of the Agriculture sector as a long-term solution to the perennial food insecurity in the country.
In recent years, government has invested billions of kwacha in the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) and its predecessor the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) with the aim of promoting food security, but millions of Malawians remain food insecure annually.
In separate interviews yesterday, agriculture experts called for multiple approaches to addressing the perennial food security challenges.
Agriculture policy expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said it is time Malawi seriously promoted irrigation farming instead of largely depending on rain-fed agriculture, so that people are able to harvest two or more times a year.
He said: “There are areas we know that experience floods every year. Every year we lose money invested in farming in these areas. The best would to plant now when there are no rains.
“Government also needs to address climate change issues as effects of climate change have heavily affected the Agriculture sector.”
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) agriculture expert Kennedy Machila said the country needs to seriously promote water harvesting and embark on irrigation farming.
“We are still relying on rain-fed agriculture and that is why it is difficult to end hunger. Goverrnment should be empowering commercial farmers to do farming on a larger scale not only to feed the country but also to produce for exports,” he said.
When contacted, Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Dickxie Kampani said the ministry has been encouraging farmers to engage in irrigation farming, adding the ministry is supporting the farmers with extension services.
He said there are also projects aimed at supporting farmers with farm inputs for winter cropping.
Said Kampani: “As a long term solution, the ministry is promoting mega farms to increase production for local consumption but also exports.
The PS said the Mega Farms concept, which will be a public private partnership, aims to accelerate and increase food production.
“We need to get people who can produce food. We need to engage companies that can produce on a larger scale using machines,” said Kampani.
The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) has established 4.4 million people will not be able to meet their annual food requirements for the 2023/2024 consumption period. The figure represents about 22 percent of the Malawi population of 19.6 million.
Since its inception in 2005, Malawi has invested billions in Fisp and its successor AIP.