The Malawi Agriculture Policy Advancement and Transformation Agenda (MwAPATA Institute) has challenged that unless Malawi address challenges that affect agricultural production and productivity, the country will face teething hitches to transform its economy.
MwAPATA Institute acting executive director William Chadza made the sentiments at the Capital Hotel in Lilongwe when the institute engaged members of Parliament (MPs) who belong to three Parliamentary Committees on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Trade.
The gathering was organized with assistance from the Agricultural Transformation Institute (ATI) to introduce MwAPATA Institute to the committees and to provide a platform for the MPs to appreciate the type of research the institute has already undertaken since it was launched last year.
Chadza cited irrigation as one of the sector the government needs to critically look into and develop to increase and improve production and productivity.
He lamented that only of the estimated 408, 000 hectares of Malawi’s potential irrigable land, only about a third of this is currently is being utilized of which about 52 percent of irrigated land is under smallholder farms and 48 percent under estates.
“The Shire Valley Transformation Project is expected extend irrigated land by 42,000 hectares by 2030. But more needs to be done,” he said.
Chadza also observed that that uncertain policy environment discourages investment in agriculture, stressing that some policies are outdated and are redundant in a relatively liberalized economy environment.
He added that unpredictability and inconsistency in policy action has led to uncertain environment that stifles private sector operations.
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator for Kasungu Southu, Simplex Chithyola Banda, welcomed the decision by MwAPATA Institute to establish working relationship with the Malawi Parliament.
Chithyola Banda, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, said he expects that the relationship will benefit both parties.
“The MwAPATA approach is more like tailor-made in the sense that they do understand the context in which Malawi operates. So, most of their policies are demand-driven, supply-driven and rapid response. So, this is a wake-up call for us to rejuvenate the anger in us not only to formulate the polices, but also implement them. So, it is an issue of actualization of the policies while other outdated policies need to be reviewed,” he said.
During the plenary discussions, the MPs highlighted a number of gaps in the research MwAPATA Institute has conducted. They recommended that the institute should move towards achieving evidence-based research.
Chadza admitted the existing gap and promised to address it.
“We believe that the main gap that was identified was that there is need for evidence, which as MwAPATA we have agreed with them that we are ready and available to provide to them. So, the committees need to look at MwAPATA as a place to go if they are looking for information to contribute to various debates, which they have in parliament,” he said.
“And also evidence for them to support their work in terms of their oversight responsibilities to various sectors, which belong to their respective committees. We believe that this partnership will help the agriculture sector, specifically and the economy more broadly because it means that committee members are going to have adequate information for them to effectively contribute to the debates and, at the same time, they also have adequate information for them to scrutinize various reports,” emphasized Chadza.
MwAPATA is a Malawian institution generating knowledge for evidence-based policies and public debates.
The Institute aims at accelerating the design and adoption of more effective Malawian-led policies and programs for improved household food security and nutrition in Malawi.
MwAPATA is affiliated with the National Planning Commission and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :