Malawi ranks among the world’s most densely populated and least developed countries. Although gross domestic product (GDP) growth has increased in recent years from 3 percent in 2005 to 7 percent in 2006, poverty and hunger are still widespread, with more than half of children under 5 stunted and almost one in five wasted due to malnutrition (WDI 2005).
Agriculture is the main source of income for most of the population. The sector employs more than 80 percent of the total labor force, contributes over 80 percent to export earnings, and accounts for more than a third of the GDP. Thus, growth in agriculture, particularly in smallholder-based agriculture, is critical to meeting the country’s food security and poverty reduction goals.
To accomplish this, the country is implementing an Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) which aims to accelerate agricultural growth through efficient resource allocation and development strategy. While significant analysis has gone into the design phase of the ADP, Malawi still faces many numerous challenges and questions in formulating a strategy to implement it, such as:
- how to identify critical constraints faced by smallholder farmers, such as lack of information and knowledge on markets, technologies and rural financial services;
- how to set up an information and knowledge system that can reach smallholder farmers;
- how to determine the right mix of policies and investments to drive sectoral and regional growth and address the needs of farmers;
- how to mobilize the required resources and to efficiently allocate those resources among subsectors and among different geographic regions to benefit smallholder farmers;
- how to build the long term country capacity to support the formulation and implementation of policies and development strategies that can reduce poverty among millions of smallholder farmers.
In addition, the strategy must remain flexible and dynamic so as to accommodate refinements in its design and objectives over time, and long-term capacity building is needed to ensure sustainable success in achieving the plan’s development goals.
The Malawi Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (SAKSS) of the IFPRI Malawi Strategy Support Program (MaSSP) is working with Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS), and the ADP implementation process to respond to these challenges and facilitate and promote evidenced-based dialogue and decisionmaking during the formulation and implementation of the ADP and other agricultural development strategies and policies. The Malawi SAKSS project aims to improve the lives of millions of smallholder farmers through strategic collaborative research, capacity strengthening, and policy dialogue.