Malawi’s agriculture sector is full of stories. There are stories of success and stories of stagnation as well as despair.
But on a balance of scale, the stories of despair dominate.
Stories such as a family toiling together in a tobacco field throughout the production months and in the end when it is selling time the man squandering all the proceeds of the green gold, are not new to Malawians, especially those in the Central Region.
But 42-year-old Elinat Kango, of Chikho Village, Traditional Authority Mwadzama in Ntosa Extension Planning Area in Nkhotakota, and her family have decided to do things differently.
Through technical assistance from the Sustainable Agriculture Production Project under the Ministry of Agriculture, Kango, a mother of two, in 2019 started pursuing a three-year vision to transform her household.
Through embracing the Household Approach, Kango and her household drew a list of things that they wanted to achieve in the three years.
“We sat down as a family, including children, to discuss our various needs and how we could achieve them. Among others, the identified housing, food, clothing need to educate children and need have livestock as our immediate priorities.
“After identifying the priorities, then we looked which ones should start first. Then we saw that food, housing and educating children were critical,” Kango said.
She says, after identifying the priorities, the household then worked out the amount of money that could be needed to realize their dreams.
“In the first year, 2019 after harvesting maize, we sold some bags and used the proceeds for moulding bricks. We also bought a goat.
“In 2020, after harvesting we bought iron sheets and started building the house up to roofing level. On the other hand, the goats have now multiplied to four since the first goat we bought bears two off springs at a go,” Kango said.
Looking ahead, she says, he plans to use the proceeds of this year’s harvest to finish the house which just needs doors and the floor to finish.
She says she also plans to have electricity connected to the house.
“After finishing the house, we are planning to buy a piece of land and build another house which we could be renting out to other people as an income generating activity,” she says.
The Ministry of Agriculture, through the Department of Agriculture Extension Services has been implementing the Household Approach since 2009 with support from the Irrigation Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project.
This is an extension approach that promotes power relations among adult and youth household members in order to promote joint decision making and equitable access to and control over resources, assets and benefits. It also enables household members to identify and address HIV issues which results in improved livelihood of all household members.
In agriculture, the approach empowers all the adult and youth male and female household members in planning and implementation of the household farming business.
The empowerment is through knowledge and skills building of the household members, inclusive decision making, resource mobilisation and utilization and use of benefits. This also enables the household members to address HIV effects and Aids impacts in order for them to achieve their aspirations.
At national level, on January 19 this year, Malawi launched the Malawi 2063, a vision that is intended to create a new Malawi that is working for self-enrichment to ensure that the political independence enjoyed for the past 57 years cascades into economic independence.
Among others, the vision seeks to transform Malawi from the current status of Least Developed Country to an Upper Middle Class economy by 2063.
According to Vice President Saulos Chilima, agriculture productivity and commercialisation is one of the pillars of the vision.
Chilima, who is also Economic Planning Minister, says other pillars are industrialisation with mining and urbanisation with development of tourism hubs as a key component.
“Our resolution is that we, as Malawians, desire and resolve to be an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant industrialised upper-middle income country by the year 2063 so we can fund our development needs primarily by ourselves.
“Already, projections indicate that growing at an annual average of 6 percent, Malawi will attain $1,064 per capita by 2030 hence reaching low middle-income status. We will hit $4,075 per capita by 2063 or sooner, hence reaching upper-middle income status. If the country is more innovative and productive, the targets can be reached much earlier,” Chilima says.
And as President Lazarus Chakwera puts it if Malawians do not work hard, work smart, and work together, the country may not achieve Malawi 2063.
“We must remember that this is not just a vision for Malawi, but the vision of Malawians to be fulfilled by Malawians. In practice, this means that if we do not increase the socioeconomic capacity of Malawians over the next decade, we are not going to reach the 2063 shores we are settingour sails for here.
“Whenwe say that we want Malawi to be a wealthy and self-reliant nation, or that the pillarsof Vision 2063 are agricultural commercialisation, smart urbanisation, and sustainable industrialisation, we must not imagine that these will come from the labors of another nation,” Chakwera says.
But for all this to happen, Malawi needs to change the way it has been doing things.
As an agriculture nation, time has come to change the way Malawi does its agriculture and bring in visionary farming.