Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) says it is upset with Malawi’s continued over-reliance on the agriculture sector as a key source of employment for the growing population.
The chamber has since advised Capital Hill to speed up the industrialisation drive as well as re-allocating resources from the current low-productivity areas to high-productivity sector or ‘high labour absorbing sectors.’
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira was speaking on the sidelines of the just-ended Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) 2019 Annual Lakeshore Conference at Sunbird Nkopola Lodge in Mangchi.
He was one of the panellists during a session which discussed on how best Malawi can create employment to its population, which is rapidly growing at a rate of 2.9 percent per annum.
Kaferapanjira said it was also disturbing to note that currently, the holding of land by most Malawians coupled with continued hand-hoeing instead of tractors as is widespread
in other agro-based economies elsewhere.
According to statistics presented at the conference, growth in agricultural land cannot keep pace with population growth in Malawi.
The average farm plot sizes continue to fall with the poor only holding median plot size at just 0.238 hectares per capita compared to the non-poor who hold 0.43 hectares per capita, a situation population experts at the meeting said will continue to worsen.
“We have a demographic dividend meaning that we have an opportunity to tap from the number of youths in the country. We all know that there are more youth in the country than adults and some people look at it as a challenge saying we cannot provide for the youths in terms of schools and jobs, but if we think along those lines then we are actually losing an opportunity,” he said.
Kaferapanjira said MCCCI as a representative body of private sector players continues to get a lot of intentions from both new and existing businesses wanting to venture into specific sectors of high productivity but such businesses would first want government to offer them high incentives “and in other words they are looking for economic diversification.”
Concurring with Kaferapanjira’s views, Department for International Development (DfID) deputy head of Malawi Office, Anthea Kerr, advised that Malawi needs to shift away from low-value crops such as maize, tobacco and soya, going forward.
She said the country’s comparative advantage does not lie in producing such crops, which are deemed traditional crops for Malawi.
During the conference, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Dalitso Kabambe, who also officially opened the meeting, complained about Malawi’s sluggish pace of diversifying away from agriculture sector, a situation he said has made Malawi susceptible to recent external climate change shocks such as this year’s Cyclone Idai.