Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) has urged government to incentivise the agriculture sector in order to attract active youth participation in crop production and value chain initiatives.
Cisanet Head of Programmes, Alfred Kambwiri, said it is sad that although the youth constitute a bigger chunk of the total population, their participation in the agricultural sector remains poor.
Kambwiri made the remarks in Mchinji on Wednesday during awareness raising on the proposed National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP).
With funding from Oxfam in Malawi, Cisanet is raising awareness and popularising the draft plan among various stakeholders in the agricultural divisions of Karonga, Mzuzu, Phalombe and Mulanje.
Kambwiri stressed that agriculture remains critical for achieving national development objectives such as broad-based growth, diversification of production and exports, poverty reduction, employment, smallholder farmer income generation and food/nutrition security.
“Hence, government needs to incentivise the youth so that they can become attracted and fully participate in the agriculture sector. We are living in the world where technology is advancing at the fastest rate.
“Youth of today are embracing technological advancement and use of a hoe cannot motivate the youths to engage in serious agricultural production and value chain initiatives,” he said.
NAIP focuses on public investments, but recognises that agricultural growth must be driven by investments of private actors.
It also creates coordination mechanisms, within the public sector and between the public and private sectors.
NAIP adopts the goal of the NAP and has three objectives: broad-based and resilient agricultural growth; improved well-being and livelihoods of Malawians; and improved food and nutrition.
Kambwiri therefore emphasised the need to increase ‘our investment in other pro-growth sectors like extension and research’, emphasising that things could improve if Malawi could adopt and show political will to implement the draft plan.
He expressed worry that Malawi fails to achieve six percent growth in agriculture in spite of fulfilling the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.
The declaration, which resulted from the African Union (AU) meeting of Heads of States and Governments in 2014, compels government to allocate 10 perecent of their annual budget to the agriculture sector to realise six percent annual agriculture gross domestic product (GDP) growth in economy.
Malawi is among few countries that have fulfilled the Malabo Declaration by allocating over 10 percent of its annual budget to the agriculture sector. However, the country has only registered 4.3 percent from the huge investments it makes to the sector, according to the network.
Kambwiri has challenged that government will have an uphill task to achieve its socioeconomic aspirations with the larger percentage of the population shunning agriculture, which is the backbone of Malawi’s economy.
Among others, the draft plan provides a framework to coordinate and prioritise investments by government agencies, development partners and non-state actors, including the private sector.
It aims to promote 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,” he said.
The draft plan further aims to address the needs of vulnerable / disadvantaged groups by closing the gender gap, youth employment, among others.
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