1. Strategic and diagnostic analysis to fill knowledge gaps in strategy development and priority setting
MaSSP research and analysis will provide timely, evidence-based answers to design, execution, policy, and strategy questions that will arise in the implementation of the ADP, including prioritizing and sequencing needed policy changes and investments. The program will undertake studies with local collaborators and in close consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, ADP, and key stakeholders.
Some potential areas to consult with national partners and stakeholders include:
- The issue of sustainability with the dramatic increase in maize production following the increases in fertilizer. Examining the sustainable options for maintaining such high growth rates over time will be essential, building on the wealth of studies undertaken in the past and currently, and based on local policy needs.
- The potential for future diversification in food crops (e.g. grain legumes) including the linkages and trade-offs among the different crops
- The role of agricultural export in food security and poverty reduction and how to promote it
- The returns from targeted investment priorities (e.g. irrigation) in terms of stimulating future agricultural growth and commercialization and how these may link with identified targets under the ADP.
2. Information and knowledge support system
Policy and strategy design and implementation are ongoing processes which require ready access to good quality information and networks of people with relevant knowledge. The Malawi SAKSS project focuses on improving knowledge and information flows between researchers, policymakers, development practitioners, and rural smallholder-based farming communities to support the formulation and implementation of agricultural and rural development strategies. It achieves this through
- improving data access and sharing
- promoting demand for evidence-based analysis, such as through publication of trends and situation reports on the sector
- promoting awareness and application of innovative policy analytical tools and information sharing platforms (using a broad range of ICT and communication tools, village level meetings, workshops and seminars,) at both the national and rural community level
- developing key indicators for assessing progress and impact
- communicating information and knowledge to stimulate policy dialogue, both at the national and rural community level
- ensuring sustainability of the system by promoting country and local ownership
The Malawi SAKSS project of the Malawi Strategy Support Program will collaborate and link with the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) node in Southern Africa, which promotes peer review and cross country lessons, and connects suppliers to users of knowledge and information in support of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), a regional development strategy with which the ADP is aligned.
3. Capacity strengthening
In close consultation with local partners and stakeholders of the Ministry and ADP, the Malawi SAKSS project is engaged in:
- Strengthening the capacity of the Ministry and national collaborators in the application of innovative policy analysis tools (economy-wide modeling, spatial analysis, and investment priority setting);
- Strengthening local institutional capacity beyond the Ministry, through a wide range of collaborative activities with national institutions;
- Undertaking demand-driven training and learning events, in collaboration with local and international universities, including other learning institutions.
Through these efforts, the Malawi Strategy Support Program is helping promote a think tank culture within national systems that strengthens the reliance on credible knowledge and information during national dialogues and decisionmaking about development strategy. Furthermore, the program explores effective ways to make information and knowledge accessible to the ultimate beneficiaries of an agricultural strategy and policies: the smallholder rural farming communities.