There is little growth registered in the agricultural private sector with only 1-2 percent registered in the past 13 years.
The growth trend in the sector has stagnated over the years despite Malawi being an agriculturally-driven economy where agriculture is supposed to be regarded as an investment.
Agriculture contributes about 37 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs over 80 percent of Malawians.
However, revelations by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development on the sidelines of the launch of a $4 million Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (Micf) third -round irrigation window, confirm how little the private sector has taken opportunity to invest in agriculture.
Director of Irrigation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Jeffrey Mamba, said the private sector’s growth in agricultural sector has been slow considering the contribution of the sector to the country’s economy.
Mamba said the private sector was supposed to take a leading role in setting up irrigation projects as is the case in other countries.
“Over the past 13 years, we have seen private sector growth in the agriculture sector being at around two percent. The fund (Micf) will allow the private sector to partner with the government and that way, we will help to uplift the lives of smallholder farmers by providing them with markets,” Mamba said.
He said access to finance and land are some of the major challenges that contributed to the slow growth.
“When we talk to the private sector, they say access to financing and land are the causes. We are hoping that the new land law will assist in allowing the private sector to easily access land,” he said.
Some players in the private sectors have attributed their failure to invest more in agriculture to high cost in irrigation and the failure by government to privatize some of the country’s irrigation schemes which were later abandoned.