Recurring droughts afflict Malawi’s agriculture sector, threatening the livelihoods of Malawi’s smallholder farmers, who constitute 80 percent of Malawi’s population. Thirty-eight percent of Malawians live below the poverty line, and 47 percent of children are stunted.

To address food insecurity and spur agriculture-led growth, the government of Malawi has developed a National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan, closely linked to its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) plan, and the Agriculture Sector-Wide Approach, which together coordinate food security programming at the national and community levels. In recent years, Malawi has met its CAADP targets for budgetary allocations to agriculture and agriculture sector growth rates, committing at least 10 percent of its budget to agriculture and exceeding the annual agriculture sector growth rate of 6 percent.

Through Feed the Future, USAID is coordinating with the Malawian government to:

  • Develop enabling agricultural policies
  • Improve nutrition through behavior change and increased access to food
  • Invest in crops, like dairy and legumes, with high potential for domestic and export markets

Feed the Future’s Multi-year Strategy for Malawi is closely aligned with the government’s national plans. Through Feed the Future, USAID’s investments are concentrated in seven districts across central and southern Malawi and focus on the dairy and legume value chains, which have high market potential and the potential to improve nutrition.

USAID training and technical assistance increases farmers’ productivity, incomes and access to markets and financial services. We are also focused on accelerating private sector development and building the capacity of local institutions to lead long-term agricultural development.

  • To date, Feed the Future’s work has increased the amount of milk collected for processing by 52 percent, organized over 23,000 rural Malawians into village savings-and-loan groups, and trained over 60,000 farmers in agricultural practices and technologies that increase productivity.
  • In July 2011, Malawi joined the global UN-led Scaling Up Nutrition movement and launched its own 1,000 Days campaign to reduce stunting among children. Malawi was the first African country to launch its own 1,000 Days campaign, recognizing that adequate nutrition in the 1,000 days from the onset of pregnancy to age 2 has the biggest impact on a child’s physical and cognitive development, and that undernutrition before age 2 can result in stunting that is irreversible.

Over the next five years, Feed the Future aims to help an estimated 281,000 vulnerable Malawian women, children, and family members—mostly smallholder farmers—escape hunger and poverty, and to reach more than 293,000 children with services to improve their nutrition and prevent stunting and child mortality. Strategic policy engagement and institutional investments will also improve incomes and nutrition among significant numbers of rural populations. 

Related Stories and More Information

A woman feeds a cow
Feed the Future in Malawi helps smallholder farmers improve their productivity and incomes.
USAID/O. Chimenya