USAID Malawi Sustainable Economic Growth Program Overview

Sma​llholder farmers cultivate 90% of the arable land in Malawi and face many challenges including 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 of land.  Malnutrition particularly affects children: 47% of children under 5 are stunted.  Therefore, agriculture, nutrition, and climate-resilient growth are top development priorities for USAID.  Through partnerships with the Government of Malawi and local non-governmental organizations, USAID is spearheading innovative programs to strengthen smallholder farmers’ economic and climatic resiliency.

Program Elements

The Feed the Future (FTF) initiative invests in the groundnut, soya and orange-fleshed sweet potato value chains, as well as nutrition behavior change efforts for pregnant and lactating women and children under three.  

In FY14, Feed the Future: 
  • Helped 95,748 farmers plant soy, representing 42% of total soy producers in the areas where FTF focuses, known as Zones of Influence (ZOI);
  • Facilitated soy planting on 33,645 hectares, a nearly six-fold increase over the previous year’s 5,542 hectares.  
  • Aided 103,994 smallholder groundnut farmers, representing 23% of total groundnut producers in the ZOI, to plant 33,173 hectares;  
  • Improved the nutrition of 112,560 children with community-based Care Group activities that provided women with education and cooking demonstrations with nourishing foods like soybean and groundnut.
Malawi - agriculture - groundnuts
A happy family with their first crop of groundnuts.
Michael Makina, INVC
A final evaluation of Food for Peace’s Wellness in Agriculture and Life Advancement (WALA) activity demonstrated a decrease in stunting in implementation areas from 42% in 2009 to 37% in 2014.   Through Village Savings and Loan groups, 103,000 individuals mobilized over $2.4 million in savings.  They used these resources to improve housing conditions, pay school fees, start income-generating activities, and purchase improved seeds and fertilizer.   Building on the success of WALA, USAID initiated two new Title II Development Food Assistance Programs in 2014, valued at approximately $90 million, which will be implemented over the next five years in Balaka, Machinga, Blantyre Rural, Chikwawa and Nsanje.
USAID continued to support a robust institutional framework for Malawi’s efforts in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).  In 2014, the Kulera Landscape REDD+ Program, covering more than 455,000 hectares, completed verification of its emission reduction approach.  USAID also launched two major new climate change programs.  Protecting Ecosystems and Restoring Forests in Malawi (PERFORM) promotes national priorities for low-emissions development.  Building on the latest analysis of Malawi’s climate change vulnerabilities, Fisheries Integration of Societies and Habitats (FISH) will increase the resiliency of Malawi's fisheries sector, an important source of nutrition and livelihoods, while protecting Lake Malawi's globally significant biodiversity.

Key Message

USAID supports sustainable livelihoods by addressing climate change, agriculture development, nutrition, and trade.

Funding (FY14)

$17 million (Feed the Future)
$10.5 million (Food for Peace)
$8 million (Environment)
TOTAL: $35.5 million

Selected Partners

  • Development Alternatives Inc.
  • International Food Policy Research Institute
  • Tetra Tech
  • PACT
  • Michigan State University
  • FHI 360
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • United States Forest Service
  • Farmers Union of Malawi

​Geographic Location

Lilongwe, Mchinji, Dedza, Ntcheu, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Blantyre Rural, Chikwawa and Nsanje

USAID Contact

Cullen Hughes, Office Chief



Last updated: September 29, 2015

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