Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa has expressed concern over lack of investment data into the agriculture sector from civil society organisations (CSOs) and asked them to be accountable.
The minister said the absence of data on how much and where CSOs are investing into the agriculture sector makes it difficult to determine government priority spending as often times there is duplication of investment efforts.
Nankhumwa was speaking during the launch of the 2019-2023 Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) Strategic Plan, which has ambitious plans of strengthening collaboration between CSOs in agriculture and the government on transforming the agriculture sector.
He said: “Statistics play a very critical role in decision- making because for us policymakers at government level, we rely on specific data. So, it’s not a matter of them hiding, but I think there has been a communication breakdown.
“It is important that once they have statistics on investments, they should share with us to avoid duplication of efforts. We tend to override each other when there is no communication.”
CisaNet national director Pamela Kuwali conceded that there has been a gap on data sharing with government, saying there have been challenges in coordination.
She, however, promised that with the new strategic plan, CSOs plan to strengthen coordination to ensure close collaboration with the government and concerned stakeholders.
“Right now, we are working together with the ministry and other partners to strictly map investments to know who is doing what and where in the agriculture sector.
“We are mapping out to see how much they are investing and we believe this exercise will help us to collect the data on specific investment contributions to the agriculture sector,” said Kuwali.
The strategic plan is premised on the theme Together for Vibrant Agriculture and concentrate on the three thematic areas such as access to profitable markets, livestock, aquaculture and dairy development as well as resilient and nutrition-smart agriculture.
African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) chief executive officer Felix Lombe, whose organisation is a CisaNet member, explained that readily available and lucrative markets remain a sure way of motivating farmers to make huge investments in agriculture.
He said in the absence of structured, lucrative and reliable markets, it will be difficult for the country to achieve agriculture transformation as farmers will continuously see no value of investing in the agriculture sector.
The strategic plan intends to reforecast the direction and key activities of the network to conform to the prevailing agriculture agenda in Malawi.