CisaNet lobbies Malawi parliament to align agricultural policies to national budget

Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) has started lobbying Malawi’s members of Parliament (MPs) to align all agricultural policy frameworks to the national budget for the country to realise improved sector performance.

CISANET budget analyst Godwin Nyirongo points at a graphic impression of the inconsistencies in the policy frameworks versus national budget–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
MP Ulemu Chilapondwa (left) acknowledging the grey areas in the agricultural sector as highlighted by CISANET in its budget analysis–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
CISANET budget analyst Godwin Nyirongo points at a graphic impression of the inconsistencies in the policy frameworks versus national budget–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times.3

The Malawi Government has, for the past years, formulated and adopted various policy frameworks to designed to enable it achieve sustainable agricultural transformation that will result in significant growth of the agricultural sector, expanding incomes for farm households, improved food and nutrition security for all Malawians, and increased agricultural exports.

At national level, the budget is guided by policies and strategies/frameworks that are implemented at three levels, translating into long term, medium term and short term.

The policy frameworks include, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III), which calls for 16 per cent allocation of the national budget to agriculture.

The MGDS III also calls for increased empowerment of the youth, women, persons with disability and vulnerable group in the Agriculture sector.

Other policy frameworks are the National Agriculture Policy (NAP) National Agriculture Investment Policy (NAIP).

NAP aims at achieving sustainable agricultural transformation that will result in significant growth of the agricultural sector, expanding incomes for farm households, improved food and nutrition security for all Malawians, and increased agricultural exports while NAIP coordinates and prioritises investments by various government agencies, development partners and Non State Actors (NSA) in the agriculture sector.

However, CISANET budget analyst, Godwin Nyirongo, observed that Malawians do not feel the presence and/or the impact of these policy frameworks because the documents are not aligned national budgets.

Nyirongo made the observation on Tuesday when he presented findings of the 2019/20 national budget Analysis, which CISANET conducted with financial support from Oxfam Malawi.

He said Malawi, just like other countries, adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which guide member states to align their national budgets to policies and plans in order to attain SDG 2.

The SDG 2 calls upon countries to end hunger, achieve food security and adequate nutrition for all, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Apparently, the analysis focused on allocations in the agriculture sector for the 2019/20 financial year to assess how they are meeting the aspirations of the marginalized women and youth.

“At the regional level, Agenda 2063 states that Africa should embrace modern agriculture for increased production, productivity and value addition to contribute to farmer and national prosperity and Africa’s collective food security. A review of the 2019/20 budget shows that despite the sector consistently meeting the 10 percent Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) budget allocation requirement, this commitment has not always translated into a six percent agriculture sector growth partly due to structural biased allocations towards a few or less impact areas within the sector,” he said.

Nyirongo therefore urged the MPs to scrutinize and lobby for improved targets and equitable resource provision within the agriculture sector votes.

He said this should include ensuring that the budget should be clear on women, youths and vulnerable groups’ involvement in the sector.

“Relevant parliamentary committees should take a leading role in holding various ministries, departments and agencies accountable in ensuring that they effectively implement and deliver on various budgetary allocations. Malawi Parliament should also ensure that the committees selected for each sector comprise of people/members who are knowledgeable about the sector and can effectively influence for agriculture growth and development at grassroots level,” recommended Nyirongo.

Vice chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Ulemu Chilapondwa, assured CISANET of his committee’s commitment to working with the civil society in ironing out glaring inefficiencies in the implementation of the agricultural sector.

Chilapondwa said MPs do appreciate the challenges that smallholder farmers are facing in the country further stressing that civil society works very closely with smallholder farmers, which means the concerns they have presented here directly affect the farmers on the ground.

“We pledge to work closely with you to address the challenges that are there in the sector,” he said.

 

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