Cisanet fears for agriculture
The Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) sees the contribution of agriculture to the economy continuing to dwindle in the foreseeable future and has called for quick interventions if the sector is to maintain its role as an accelerator of economic growth.
Changes in climatic patterns and resulting natural calamities continue to paint a gloomy outlook of the future of agriculture and Cisanet Executive Director, Tamani Nkhono Mvula fears this may result in even lower productivity in the sector.
Agriculture is the backbone of the Malawi economy but misfortunes have continue to dog the sector with major cash crop, tobacco, continuing to fetch low prices at the auction in recent years.
Economic commentators have been calling for diversification of the country’s cropping system away from tobacco to develop other crops, such as pulses, which have high demand in some international markets.
“If we do not do anything now, I don’t see a good picture five years from now,” Nkhono Mvula warned in an interview.
The fears come following two consecutive years of dwindling agricultural output due to natural calamities including drought and floods that hit some parts of the country.
Nkhono Mvula said stakeholders need to be aggressive in addressing concerns by among others, shifting to climate smart agriculture.
“Much of the decline in production over the past three years has been mainly because of climate related issues. Our interest is to see to it that there has to be a proper framework in the implementation of climate smart agriculture. Most interventions do not have a clear policy framework,” worried Nkhono Mvula.
He further reiterated on the need for the country to diversify production.
He faulted the resource allocation in the sector as well as bias to selected crop production, developments which he said have also affected the development of other crops.
“If we don’t do anything now, I think we are going to be facing a lot of challenges. We need to invest heavily in research. We need to be aggressive in addressing the vice and come up with varieties that are adaptive to the changes in the environment,” Nkhono Mvula said.
Recently, the Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum), a grower representative body, also hinted on a possible drop in agricultural production if Malawi continues with its over-reliance on tobacco as a major cash crop.
Agriculture remains the country’s economic backbone, supporting about 85 percent of the population.