The Government of Malawi (GOM) has made agricultural development and nutrition top priorities. With President Banda’s leadership, the GOM is focusing investments under her Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty Reduction and the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach to tackle governance issues that unlock latent private sector investment and open up export markets for smallholders. USAID is collaborating with the GOM to seize these opportunities while continuing to address challenges in agriculture-led economic growth.
Agriculture accounts for over 80 percent of Malawi’s employment. Smallholder farmers cultivate 90 percent of Malawi’s arable land, but they face many challenges, such as declining soil fertility, erratic rainfall, land constraints, and poor institutional support. With limited access to credit, inputs and price information, the typical farmer struggles to support a family of six on only one hectare. Women are particularly disadvantaged, constituting 70 percent of the agricultural labor force and producing 80 percent of household food, but having even poorer access to inputs and extension services than men. More than one third of Malawians consume less than the required daily calories that typically lack dietary diversity. Malnutrition particularly affects children: among those under the age of five, 47 percent are stunted and 63 percent are anemic.
The Feed the Future (FTF) Integrating Nutrition in Value Chains activity prioritizes dairy, soy and groundnuts for investment because of their market potential and nutritional impact on smallholders. Other USAID agriculture activities link smallholders to structured commodity markets, support smallholders in the paprika and bird’s eye chili value chains, and strengthen capacity at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to improve agricultural statistics and promote evidence-based analysis for policy decision making.
As a result of FTF assistance, USAID formed 29 public-private partnerships. In addition, more than 80 private enterprises and producer organizations applied new technologies or management practices. In FY 2012, 3,246 farmers used Esoko, which provides text message and internet platforms for access to market information, polling services, push/ pull communications, and inventory control systems. Under the same FTF activity, farmers traded over 23,000 metric tons of agricultural commodities worth over $11 million.
The Food for Peace-supported Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement (WALA) activity provides 200,000 food insecure households with integrated programming that focuses on maternal and child health and nutrition, agriculture and natural resources management, and disaster risk reduction and household coping strategies. It made significant contributions to increasing the resiliency of these vulnerable communities by training 111,675 farmers on short-term agricultural sector productivity. Of the targeted households, 46 percent use at least three out of five WALA-promoted sustainable crop production technologies (quality seeds, crop rotation, inter-cropping, minimum tillage, and mulching). A total of 97,111 individuals benefited from financial services, by WALA organizing them into Village Savings and Loan (VS&L) groups. The high demand from this successful endeavor resulted in VS&Ls achieving $1.1 million in savings deposits.
Inclusive Agriculture Sector Growth goes hand-in-hand with Improved Nutritional Status
Funding (FY 2012)
$13.1 million (Feed the Future)
$8.1 million (Food for Peace)
TOTAL: $21.2 million
Development Alternatives InternationaI, Catholic Relief Services, ACDI/VOCA, International Food Policy Research Institute, Land O’ Lakes, Heifer Project Malawi, Total Land Care, FHI 360
Cybill Sigler, Team Leader
Sustainable Economic Growth
Last updated: October 04, 2013