Agriculture: Remedy for unemployment


In terms of employment, agriculture is by far the most important sector of Malawi’s economy, engaging about 70 percent of the labour force.

Agricultural holdings are generally small and scattered; farming is often of the subsistence variety and characterised by simple tools.

The economic benefits of large-scale agriculture are recognised and the government favours the formation of cooperative societies and settlements to encourage industrial agriculture.


Large-scale agriculture, however, is not common though the government through the ministry of agriculture has set a plan to introduce mega farms.

Despite an abundant water supply, a favourable climate and wide areas of arable land, productivity is restricted owing to low soil fertility in many areas and inefficient methods of cultivation.

Effective land tenure reform and provision of training in the development of agriculture-related industries suitable for unskilled Malawians could make agriculture a more viable source of employment opportunities and build wealth for citizens.


Also, governmental organisations and landowners could be encouraged to make land available to poor Malawians on a more equitable basis for agricultural-related industries.

Until such occurs, agriculture will continue to be an unviable source of employment opportunities and poverty alleviation for most Malawians.

Unemployment is one of the development problems that face every developing economy in the 21st century and Malawi is not spared.

The Malawi kwacha has been devalued, corruption is rampant, and the population is growing at a worrying rate.

The decline in agricultural production has brought terrible consequences which include a high unemployment rate, food crisis, inflation, corruption and poor attitude to work.

In the last few years, Malawi has consistently been featured on the negative side of different Human Development reports.

According to International Labor Organisation, unemployment refers to the share of the labour force that is without work but available for and seeking employment.

Of course, definitions of the labour force and unemployment differ by country. However, it is still worrisome to note that the current unemployment rate in Malawi is high and is projected to trend around 7.60 percent in 2023 and 7.80 in 2024.

Malawi is among top ten countries with the lowest employment rates in the world.

The analysis from an agricultural point of view suggests that people who have been majorly affected by unemployment are a great proportion of underprivileged Malawians in rural areas where agriculture is primarily subsistent, land is not easily accessible or not fully utilisable, credit facilities are lacking and improved production methods are not practised.

In recent times, however, the situation has been intensified by the increasing unemployment of professionals such as accountants, engineers, agriculturists, and among others.

To eradicate unemployment and poverty in Malawi, innovative methods need to be used to successfully tackle unemployment and poverty.

Tackling unemployment requires the development and implementation of programmes that will directly benefit the poor, by restructuring sources of Malawi’s gross domestic product to significantly include a variety of industries that are labour intensive, such as cottage industries.

Improvement in agricultural production by making land available to private and public organisations to set up industries in the most economically depressed areas of Malawi and providing training in setting up industries (especially cottage industries) to unskilled or economically deprived Malawians would make ownership of small-scale industries a viable source of employment opportunities and building wealth for many Malawians.

In addition, businesses and governmental entities can also be encouraged via incentives to locate industries that are labour intensive in areas with the highest incidences of poverty, which will usually be the rural areas of Malawians, as a means of providing employment opportunities to these citizens.

In conclusion, if we are to attain Malawi’s 2063 sustainable development goals, then agriculture, needs to be properly embraced and funded to ensure food security, reduction of poverty and unemployment rate in Malawi.

In addition, diversification of Malawi’s economy through a functional investment in agriculture by individuals, the government and the organised private sector will also help solve the problem of unemployment and poverty in Malawi.

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