The World Bank has said there is need for a comprehensive plan from the government on critical actions to be undertaken to ensure that the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) performs its expected functions and reduce market distortions.
World Bank Country Manager for Malawi, Greg Toulmin, was speaking in Lilongwe on Friday during the launch of Agriculture Commercialisation (Agcom) project.
Toulmin said a functional review of Admarc that was undertaken in 2018, provides key recommendations that can guide the process of reform.
He added that the reform plan needs to be communicated properly.
Admarc has in recent years recorded dismal performances, failing to provide a stable market for local smallholder farmers.
The organisation has also been buying commodities at prices above its selling price, resulting in huge loses.
According to Toulmin, a recent World Bank report, on the Enabling Environment for the Business of Agriculture in Malawi revealed that there are still significant barriers for private actors in agriculture.
“A good legal framework is needed to guide the seed sector in Malawi. The New Seed Bill needs to be enacted, and at the same time, new seed regulations should be put in place followed by effective implementation and enforcement. The National Seed Policy which was launched in 2018 provides a solid foundation to finish up these outstanding legal frameworks.
“On Market environment, by implementing the Control of Goods Act (Coga), there would be a predictable market environment for business which would translate into greater agricultural investments and exports. Since the Coga was passed in 2018, the development of its accompanying regulations has stalled. They need to be finalized and implemented,” Toulmin said.
President Peter Mutharika, who presided over the launch, did not directly respond to Toulmin’s plea.
Mutharika said the Agcom will help the government to empower farmers to invest in value addition.
“What we are beginning today is a revolution in agriculture in Malawi. We will train people with skills for value addition to their produce. And we will make sure that people have good storage systems.
“For example, we will provide cold-rooms to farming communities across the country so that they can store their produce there. I want every community to have the capacity to use their own land to increase productivity and add value to their produce. We will empower farmers with financing. We want to empower our communities by getting them organised and improving their production environment,” Mutharika said.
He observed that, by the end of the project in 2023, Malawi would have established at least 300 productive alliances, adding that government plans to graduate 650,000 small and medium scale farmers from subsistence to commercial farming.
The project will be implemented with a $95 million credit financing facility from the World Bank.