Malawi’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture which accounts for 80% of the total workforce, 39% of the GDP and 80% of export earnings. However, economic development has been impeded by its landlocked and narrow economic base, limited foreign and domestic investment, the legacy of authoritarian leadership, high population growth, and low human capacity levels. Due to these constraints, Malawi has tended to be a predominantly import and consumption based economy.
Smallholder agriculture, which contributes more than 70% of the nation’s agricultural production, has remained unprofitable due to its overdependence on rain-fed farming, weak links to markets, few and weak farmer organizations, high transport costs and poor access to credit. The country has experienced chronic food insecurity at both household and national levels, and most Malawians have remained poor.
The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) stresses on sustainable economic growth and infrastructure development as a means of achieving poverty reduction. High growth sectors such as Agriculture and Food Security, Irrigation and Water Development, Integrated Rural Development are some of the key priority areas of the MDGS in achieving sustainable economic growth. The Government of Malawi is currently formulating an Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) as a prioritized results-oriented framework for implementing agriculture components of the MDGS, identifying three key focus areas of (i) Food Security and Risk Management, (ii) Commercial Agriculture, Agro-processing and Market Development, and (iii) Sustainable Land and Water Management.