Bold government programme to support small farmers averts famine
The Government of Malawi has combined its long-term goals, contained in Malawi Vision 2020, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into a medium-term operational strategy, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) 2006-2011. The MGDS represents a detailed exposition by the Government of the strategies it intends to follow in transforming Malawi from a low-income into a middle-income country. Malawi remains committed to achieving the MDGs localized to the country context. The MGDS recognizes that without economic growth there will be little chance of achieving MDG 1, on poverty reduction. The MGDS acknowledges the importance of all the MDGs, and its strategies have been aligned to the MDG targets.
In May 2006 the government requested the technical support of UNDP to undertake a Needs Assessment. It is in the process of institutionalizing such needs assessments in the development planning process.
MDG-based planning in Malawi has faced a number of challenges including the following: (a) convincing cooperating and development partners to support the MDG-based planning process, including MDG needs assessments; (b) limited national capacity to undertake MDG-based planning; (c) a lack of skilled government personnel; (d) the difficulties in accommodating needs assessment financial requirements in the existing constrained fiscal space; and (e) the lack of a macroeconomic framework and models to integrate the requirements of the needs assessment into the budget process with respect to achievement of MGDS and MDG targets.
In 2005, Malawi's maize harvest was 45 per cent under the national requirement. Despite the opposition of some of Malawi’s donors about cost and sustainability, the government introduced a bold, farm-input subsidy programme to preempt the famine. At a cost of $60 million, roughly $5.00 per Malawian, the government provided seed and fertilizers at reduced cost (one third of the world market price) to more than 1 million smallholder maize farmers. The United Nations issued an appeal in August 2005, seeking food and other aid to address the humanitarian crisis, and fertilizers and seeds for the coming growing season. Donors responded quickly with food aid, but gave little support for fertilizers or seeds.
The results of the input scheme have been spectacular. In 2007, for the second year running, Malawi’s smallholders are harvesting a bumper crop (estimated at 3.2 million tonnes). With favourable rains, yields have soared. Estimates suggest a more than 1 million tonne surplus for the country. Millions of people have been spared hunger and its cruel consequences, and Malawi is exporting maize to neighbouring countries in need.
Last updated 1 November 2007