Agriculture sector rated poorly in 2022

Tamani Nkhono Mvula

Farmers’ umbrella body, the Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum), has rated the 2022 agriculture season poorly, saying the sector’s input to the national economy is poised to shrink this year.

Fum says reduced output of Malawi’s staple crop, maize, and lower-than-expected revenue from major cash crops such as tobacco affected the sector’s footing.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s third-round crop estimates released in June 2022 for instance, Malawi’s maize output declined by 18.9 percent in the 2021-22 farming year but remains higher than the five-year average.


However, the price for the staple grain remained volatile during a greater part of the year, rising to about K27,150 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag.

On the other side, revenue from tobacco—Malawi’s main export crop—dropped to $181.3 million this year from $194.9 million realised last season. This also piles pressure on the forex-starved Malawi, whose annual imports bill is pegged at $3 billion compared to a $1 billion value of exports.

In an interview Thursday, Fum Chief Executive Officer Jacob Nyirongo said the sector performed poorly, evidenced by disruptions in the supply of fertiliser and other inputs under the government-run Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), among other things.


He said the outlook for 2023 remains murky.

“The government policy must be deliberate in driving agriculture diversification through investment in relevant seed systems, research and innovation, extension and advisory support to farmers, development of market infrastructure and targeted and adapted financial instruments that can spur farm level investment,” Nyirongo said.

In a separate interview, agriculture policy advocate Tamani Nkhono Mvula described the performance of the agriculture sector in 2022 as below average.

“In Malawi, when we are talking about food security, we are talking about agriculture, mainly maize. We rely very little on imports; so, this shows that, even last year, the performance was poor.

“The outlook for next year doesn’t look that good. I am basing this on the performance of the AIP. What is happening in this programme is going to have a huge impact on agricultural output,” Nkhono Mvula said.

Malawi remains an agrarian economy and, in 2021, the share of agriculture in Malawi’s gross domestic product was 22.73 percent.

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