Malawi’s four year agricultural plan to stabilize food security, known as the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp), is one billion dollars short of the funds needed to achieve the mandate’s goals by next year, said Minister of Agriculture representatives at a meeting Tuesday at Pacific Hotel in Lilongwe.
And reducing food shortages is just one goal amongst a lengthy list that ASWAp is failing to fulfill.
The ASWAp mandate also seeks to increase the country’s agricultural exporting, productivity, and investment in crops such as cotton, for instance.
But the stakeholders at the meeting agreed on why ASWAp lacks funding.
“The government in Malawi likes to do all of its work alone,” said Duncan Warren, a business development manager at Farmers Organization ltd. “It only looks to the public sector for its funding.”
For Warren, the lack of collaborative work between the public and private sector is why there is a shortage in ASWAp funding: “The partnership has to be there.”
The private sector is not involved in ASWAp’s budget sessions, said Warren.
“We are only invited to comment on the budget once it is done,” said the employee of a small private business. “We need to work together through the whole process.”
Involving the private sector in the budgeting process could increase investment and funding in Malawi’s agricultural sector, said Warren.
But this is not the only reason why the private sector needs a greater involvement in ASWAp’s planning processes.
The private sector has a greater expertise in and access to technology, he said. Modern technology is critical in efficient agricultural practices. Farmers will increase their productivity and overall sales if given the right tools through the private sector. While the public sector, on the other hand, focuses too narrowly on policymaking and not the specifics of farming practices, said Warren.
“The two have to work together to maximize efforts.”
Ministry of Agriculture representatives said at the meeting Tuesday they are open to private sector involvement in the ASWAp plan. In fact, they want the mandate to be seen by Malawians as a joint planning processes between state and non-state actors.
This is the second ASWAp meeting between Ministry of Agriculture representatives and stakeholders this month.