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Publication | 2023

Food Systems Profile - Malawi


The report identifies the following levers for the transition towards sustainable food systems in Malawi:

Key Sustainability Question 1: Why does Malawi’s food system not allow smallholder farmers to make a decent living, nor ensure food security and nutrition – in rural areas in particular?

  • Investment in critical transport, storage and marketing infrastructure, as well as ensuring access to critical complementary agricultural and rural services.

  • Investment in research and development and increasing use and adoption of improve technologies and practices in agriculture, including a specific focus on soil improvement.

  • Promoting production of diversified food in rural areas could be done through rethinking the balance of resources dedicated to different critical agricultural programmes beyond the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), as well as further reforms to ensure FISP also benefits smallholder and women farmers.

  • Promoting gender equity and enhanced agricultural asset wealth for women through agricultural and rural programmes.

Key Sustainability Question 2: Why are smallholder farmers increasingly vulnerable and less resilient to climate variability and other environmental challenges?

  • Introduction and promotion of supplemental irrigation for increasing resilience to the effects of climate change and risks.

  • Support adoption and practices of crop diversification and climate-smart agriculture for sustainable transition of the food system.

  • Redouble efforts to tackle new plant and animal diseases, including research and development and considering resistant crops.

  • Introduction of land certification programmes to enhance tenure security of rural households:

    • fast-tracking operationalization of land tenure laws (certification schemes); and

    • empowering community land tenure committees on governance and administration of land.

Key Sustainability Question 3: Can the main agricultural policies move beyond subsidies for maize?

  • Sharpen implementation to increase productivity and diversification by small-scale farmers. This would require refining and more accurately targeting the beneficiaries, promoting farmer training and education programmes.

  • Farmer education, along with nutritional advice, would also help to strengthen efforts to diversify the crops produced.

  • Investing more in production and market infrastructure could make a substantial difference in helping to increase small-scale farmers’ output and in getting any excess produce to markets.

  • Performing a precise yearly evaluation of the actual impacts of the policy could make a significant difference in helping to adjust and fine-tune, making it more responsive and effective in bringing about change. Increasing the reliability of agricultural statistics could also be a key point here in improving the tools available for policy evaluation and assessment.