Malawians are forging new markets for their agricultural exports, within and without Africa
Approximately 80 percent of the population of 19 million consists of smallholder farmers, who work plots of land of less than one hectare. The country is one of the world’s poorest.
In a bid to leverage the potential of its people and possibilities of its land, the Government of Malawi is pursuing a targeted strategy to boost the country’s agriculture exports and engage new markets — all in order to reduce poverty and improve conditions for Malawians.
“Malawi developed a diversification strategy in 2013 — taking into consideration the increased trade imbalance — and we implemented the National Export Strategy to deal with issues relating to enhancing our productive capacity,” said Christina Chatima, Director of Trade at the Malawi Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.
“One pilot effort has supported smallholder farmers, and we have seen that enhanced productive capacity has been achieved. The farmers involved benefited a lot in income, and poverty levels have really gone down: so, we are very happy to be working to achieve the implementation of the export strategy, as well as the government agenda in terms of poverty reduction,” she said.
The arable land in the country is largely planted with maize and tobacco. The government’s plan looks to expanding markets for new agriculture items for export, including higher value processed items ranging from salted peanuts to soybean cakes and powder.
The return on these more expensive items means improved incomes for rural farmers: via better prices for their harvests, jobs for people in processing centers in Lilongwe, and more opportunities for Malawi-born businesses and cooperatives.