Malawi Pres. Banda beckons investors in agriculture sector

President Joyce Banda speaking on a grow Africa forum in Cape Town on Thursday(C) Govati Nyirenda, Mana.

President Joyce Banda speaking on a grow Africa forum in Cape Town on Thursday(C) Govati Nyirenda, Mana.

President Joyce Banda on Thursday said Malawi was ready to support investors in the agriculture sector adding that her government had made dramatic reforms in the sector aimed at improving the environment for doing business.

The Malawi leader, who is in Cape Town for the World Economic Forum,  told the Grow Africa Investment Forum that Malawi is prioritising private sector investment into agriculture as a driver of poverty reduction and improved food security.

Saying that the country has good soil, water and land, the President said government will support investors by providing them with land to grow crops for export potential.

The President said although the world has said for the past 10 years, Malawi has done well in improving maize production, a survey by the International Monetary Fund said poverty has worsened at the household level.

She said Malawi has been growing enough maize but a good amount of it is smuggled to neighbouring countries, adding that to make maize production financially rewarding, her government has introduced the growing of two crops a year.

“Vast land lies idle. We, therefore, encourage the private sector to double maize production in the country,” she said.

She also said government has introduced a special loan scheme under a public, private partnership arrangement which farmers can use to boost maize production. This would increase the number of farmers benefiting from government initiatives to 3 million from the present 1.5 million under the farm input subsidy programme.

President Banda also told the forum that government was strengthening livestock production as a way of boosting people’s income. The initiative will see one million cattle distributed to households across the country over a period of two years.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Professor Peter Mwanza said the forum had provided an opportunity for learning from and interaction with potential investors.

Saying that Government will develop a strong rebranding and communication strategy to enable the world to appreciate the reforms in the agriculture and the business sectors, he said there was also need for the Malawi government to establish an agriculture development bank  that can support the agriculture sector  since financing was key to  agricultural production.

Mwanza announced that companies had expressed concrete interest to make investments in sugar for ethanol and processing of soya beans, groundnuts, and soft oils.

Additionally, he told the forum, there is need to establish partnerships capable of creating commercially viable value chains that integrate smallholders, especially women.

In 2012, Grow Africa partners mobilised over U$3 billion in new investment commitments which has engaged 800,000 farmers across eight African countries.

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