The Malawi agriculture sector is enjoying a massive investment of about $500 million in the 2015/16 financial year, running from July to June, but the question is whether the sector will get the maximum return from the investment.
The donor contribution to the sector is estimated at $265 million, while the government and non-governmental organisations (NGO) have injected $170 million and $46 million, respectively.
The revelation was made at the 2014/15 Agriculture Joint Sector Review meeting by the chairperson of the Donor Committee on Agriculture and Food Security (DCAFS) Nikolas Bosscher on Thursday in Lilongwe.
DCAFS comprises of Development Partners who include the African Development Bank, Brazil Embassy, DFID, European Union, Flanders Government, GIZ, Irish Aid, JICA, Embassy of Japan, Norwegian Embassy, USAID, World Bank, FAO and the rest of the UN family.
“This means we are collectively investing around $500 million in the sector in this financial year. This is a substantial figure and the big question here is: are we getting the maximum return on our investment,” wondered Bosscher.
Bosscher, however, indicated that the donor contribution is exclusive of humanitarian assistance, which is estimated at $57 million. The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) says at least 2.8 million people are at risk of food insecurity and need of food aid in 2015 to March 2016.
From the current picture, he added, it is clear that the overall sector investments are heavily biased towards the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp) component of food security and “that we need to balance our efforts better according to the sector plan.”
“Singular emphasis on one component risks undermining the progress of the overall sector. DCAFS propose this map of our overall investments will help us to conduct an informed and inclusive policy dialogue on our combined agriculture investment. We believe our combined investments can achieve more.
“Through increased and improved partnerships between the government, Development Partners, academic and research institutes, NGOs, farmer organisations and the private sectors we should be able to increase our overall impact to the benefit of the sector and the farming population,” further stated.
During review meeting, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) presented a report on the contribution to the ASWAp investment plan following a call by the Minister of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development Dr Allan Chiyembekeza of increased accountability from the Non State Actors (NSAs).
CISANET National Director Tamani Nkhono-Mvula who presented the findings stated that 53.46 percent support in the 2014/15 financial year was given towards food security and risk management, confirming the picture as stated by Bosscher who indicated that the overall sector investments are heavily biased towards component of food security.
Agri-business and market development was the second most supported pillar at 15 percent followed by Sustainable land and water management at 11 percent.
He however noted that there is lack of awareness of the ASWAp by some of the organisations as such it was a challenge for some NSAs to determine best fit for their projects according to the ASWAp pillars.
Meanwhile, Government has reiterated that agriculture continues to be the mainstay of Malawi’s economy as such the Government of Malawi is committed to improving the performance of the agricultural sector to ensure food and nutrition security, increased incomes, reduction in poverty and contribution to overall economic growth.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr Allan Chiyembekeza explained that a transformed agricultural sector cannot happen without a deliberate and intensified prioritisation of agriculture in resource allocation and investments.
“It is against this background that during the period under review (2014/15), the Government of Malawi allocated 14.7% of its total budget to the sector which is above the 10 percent CAADP target under the Maputo and Malabo Declarations.
Chiyembekeza however noted that performance of the previous growing season is clear evidence that Malawi’s agriculture is very prone to climate change.
“This makes it difficult to predict that if we make investments that are dependent on rain, planned outcomes would be achieved. It is therefore, imperative that we give serious attention to irrigation farming which is under one of the priority focus areas in ASWAp – the Sustainable Agriculture Land and Water Management.
“Currently, we have a large financing gap for irrigation sub sector for us to attain the set targets. I therefore, wish to call upon our development partners and all other agencies out there to increase funding for irrigation infrastructure development,” he said.
The Agriculture Joint Sector Review provides an opportunity to sector players to account for the resources as well as results achieved together and reflect and deliberate on key issues affecting in the sector.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :