The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) has joined calls for Malawi to diversify the economy and increase support towards the production of other crops such as legumes, cotton and rice as one way of protecting the economy from further shocks.
AICC Chief Executive Officer, Felix Lombe, said considering that the Malawi economy is still agro-based, there is need to start strategising on how the contribution of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product can be increased.
“We need to double current exports in legumes, triple the cotton and rice exports for us to send tobacco to its final resting place. The processes of repositioning a commodity which fetches a mere $300 million cannot be a subject of lengthy debate for any serious country. In fact, the focus should not be on our exports being a source of foreign exchange. This is economics of mediocrity,” he said.
Lombe said there is need to improve productivity of strategic commodities such as legumes, rice cotton and other oil seeds in order to make Malawian products more competitive.
“This can be achieved through irrigation and other stimulus for example, looking at changing policy, such as land reforms and increasing support to present and potential commercial farmers. The current financing model is so irresponsive to the agriculture sector at all levels,” he said.
He further said there is need to remove infrastructural bottlenecks to increase competitiveness of local products.
“Mild structural transformation that takes us to agro-processing stimulates demand both internally and externally thereby stimulating supply. Relying exclusively on exporting raw materials is the same as looking for consideration from someone you do not know when it comes to price determination,” said Lombe.