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Agriculture to grow by 1%

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NKHONO MVULA—The country needs to have a comprehensive plan

Growth prospects for agriculture, Malawi‘s main driver of the economy, have been revised downwards to a meagre one percent in 2020 from the earlier projected 5.2 percent.

In its 2020 Annual Economic Report, the government attributes the downward revision to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report says in particular, reduced winter cropping and post-harvest losses would result to reduced demand for agriculture produce.

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Growth for 2021 is projected at 3.1 percent in part due to projects such as the Agriculture Commercialisation project and the Shire Valley Agricultural Transformation Project whose benefits are expected to start to be seen by that year.

Malawi’s economy has remained agro-based. That is to say, the strength of the economy depends on the vibrancy of the agriculture sector.

In an interview Tuesday, agriculture expert, Tamani Nkhono Mvula, rated the outlook as unfortunate, saying, slow growth in agriculture could affect economic growth prospects.

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“The country needs to have a comprehensive responsive plan which may include targeted subsidies on the most vulnerable for inputs, timely procurement and imports of inputs addressing all the structural bottlenecks for entry into the market by smallholder farmers,” Mvula said.

When presenting the 2020/21 National Budget to Parliament on Friday, Finance Minister, Joseph Mwanamvekha, announced to have allocated K194.9 billion to the sector, representing 9.6 percent of the total budget.

The provision will cater for operations in the agriculture and food security, irrigation and water development, climate change and development projects within the sector.

Real Gross Domestic Product growth rate is projected at 1.9 percent in 2020 and 4.5 percent in 2021.

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