The Agricultural Sector-Wide Approach (ASWAp) aims to support priority activities in the agricultural sector in Malawi that would increase agricultural productivity, reduce hunger, enable people access to nutritious foods, and increase the contribution of agro-processing to economic growth. ASWAp directly supports the objective of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) of reducing poverty and transforming the economy from an importing and consuming to a manufacturing and exporting one. Agricultural research plays a vital role in making the ASWAp programme a success; yet, to date there has been no effort to explicitly link the research strategies of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) institutions to the ASWAp research agenda. Thus, as a first step toward facilitating the development of an “ASWAp-responsive” research strategy for NARS institutions, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), under the auspices of its Malawi Strategy Support Program (MaSSP), conducted an assessment of the strategic research and planning capacity within NARS institutions and the general readiness of NARS institutions to respond to ASWAp research needs. Findings show, first, that research funding is unevenly distributed in the NARS. Collaborative research within the NARS is therefore essential – this is because institutions that have greater research funds cannot on their own fully respond to the ASWAp research agenda. Second, our findings show that not all NARS institutions communicate their research findings to policy makers. This threatens the successful implementation of ASWAp as its success hinges on the full participation of all stakeholders in the sector. Hence there is need to strengthen research communication channels between the NARS and policy makers, as well as other actors in the agricultural sector, to ensure successful implementation of ASWAp.
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)