Malawi has achieved the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015 and now seeks private investors to gear up commercial production for agricultural exports, according to a report in IPSNews.
The southern African nation acknowledged that investment in agricultural development positively impacts other Millennium Development Goals such as access to clean water, healthcare and the economic empowerment of women, the report said.
Domestic spending in Malawi’s agriculture has increased five percent to eight percent per year. The country now devotes 18 percent of its annual national budget to agriculture, according to IPSNews. This exceeds the Comprehensive Agricultural African Development Program declaration of 2003, which asked countries to spend 10 percent of their national budgets on agriculture.
“Agricultural investment is essential to our country, otherwise we risk total collapse in terms of food security, the economy and the population,” Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Peter Mwanza told IPSNews.
Malawi’s economy is agriculturally dependent on the export of sugar, cotton, legumes and cassava. Eighty-five percent of foreign exchange is earned from farming, and 80 percent of the labor force is employed in food and agriculture. Government and private sector investment in Malawi’s farmers is now seen as critical to the country’s resilience, the report says.
Investment in commercial agriculture to produce Malawi’s staple foods – cassava, corn and rice – will create a surplus that will in turn guarantee food security and a higher income for small farmers, Mwanza said.
“It’s time to think big. We need private large-scale commercial production of our agriculture for export purposes. We want to attract more investors as they will make the economy strong and therefore our farmers stronger as a result of greater employment and income,” he said, according to the IPSNews report.