Researchers and policy implementors in the agriculture sector have been challenged to find ways of steering Malawi from a country that struggles in agriculture commercialization to one that flourishes and makes better use of resources in the sector.
During an annual agricultural policy conference organized by MwAPATA Institute in Lilongwe, Vice President Saulos Chilima, indicated that the agriculture sector is one that has the best immediate prospects for economic growth, hence the need for utilizing its potential.
The two-day conference has been organized to call for stakeholders to action on driving the transformation agenda as well as deliberating on how the agriculture sector can thrive with the use of research-based policies.
“We need to make sure that our investments are giving us much better returns than we have seen in the past, and that is the message that we are sending in the conference,” explained Chilima.
He further added that other countries are performing much better as our yield per one kilogram of fertilizer is low, which has a negative bearing on food security.
“In our case we are yielding five kilograms to one kilogram of fertilizer whereas other places are yielding as high as 37.5 kilograms to a kilo,” Chilima emphasized.
Commenting on his part, Board Chairperson for MwAPATA Institute, Richard Mkandawire, pointed out that transforming the agriculture agenda should be treated as an emergency which requires the use of evidence-based research.
“There are key areas that have been identified in this conference and everyone agrees that we cannot continue focusing on tobacco for transforming the agriculture sector as other value chains can be promoted for better output,” hinted Mkandawire.
He further highlighted that with the idea of finding alternatives to the green gold, authorities need to pay attention to investing in research and development including extension and irrigation.
The government has further been challenged to support Malawian based research institutions and thinktanks to support the local narrative of what the agriculture sector really is.