The AfCFTA can be meaningful if we sell more products – Chilima – Malawi 24

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Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima said Malawi has great potential to earn more money from agriculture through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), but the country must make tangible progress with the objectives set out in the national export strategy ll and also embrace modernity. ways to cultivate.

Chilima made the remarks in Lilongwe yesterday, February 17, 2022, when he chaired the Agricultural Policy Conference.

The conference was organized by the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) and the theme of the conference was African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Opportunities and Challenges for Agriculture in Malawi.

Speaking at the conference, the vice president said Malawi, with over 18 million people and where eight out of ten people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, cannot continue to be a consumer country. .

“Today, the traditional agriculture that we have been talking about for many years has changed and continues to change. We must not be stuck in the past as the world embraces modern agricultural practices.

“Agriculture today must meet quality standards, agriculture today must have the desired value-added products, agriculture today seeks that women and young people are actively engaging in it across a range of value chains, and agriculture today requires robust ICT systems,” said Chilima.

He also noted that the government of Malawi has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of South Sudan to access a US$295 million market for maize flour, among other products, and that is an excellent opportunity. He then called for joint efforts to expand Malawi’s trade base through agriculture.

“Around 90% of our exports are in raw form, embodying limited added value. Conversely, Malawi imports cooking oil, peanut butter, to name a few. Let’s all work together to turn the tide.

“The AfCFTA has the potential to deepen and expand Malawi’s trade from the current low base which can lead to welfare gains for our people. This is the time when farmers, SMEs, telecom companies and the private sector must step up and join forces to make this possible. We need everyone on deck to continuously identify opportunities. Solve challenges together and bring solutions to the table,” Chilima said.

Wirima Kambauwa

In her remarks, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima said that agriculture remains the backbone of Malawi’s economy and provides employment and income to the majority of households and foreign currency essential for other economic activities.

“Most of the sector’s contribution comes from production and more than 80% of households depend on agriculture for income generation, with most farmers trapped in subsistence farming. Our ministry strives to ensure that we produce enough for the country and produce more for the market beyond our borders. The challenges faced in the agriculture sector are aimed at stimulating growth and increasing exports, where interventions have been put in place through policy documents such as; National Export Strategy (NES ll), National Agriculture Policy (NAP), National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) and Malawi 2063 (MW2063),” Wirima said.

Nasfam Managing Director, who is also Chairman of the CISANET Board, Dr Betty Chinyamunyamu, called on the government to consider offering one or two additional crops that can add tobacco.

She noted that other African countries have adopted new products like avocado, macadamia or horticulture.

“So if we are looking at our national export strategy, we need to prioritize one of the products where we already have a competitive advantage, so that we have a significant impact,” Chinyamunyamu said.

Chinyamunyamu

She also called on the government to take the right steps on the recommendations made at the agricultural policy conference.

During the conference, participants explained how Malawi has the potential to tap into the African Continental Free Trade Area due to the land that Malawi has, as well as the water that can be used for irrigation.

Speakers at the conference also addressed the need for coherence in policies and also the implementation of those policies. Some key policies were also highlighted, such as the Seeds Bill and the need to expedite this Bill so that farmers can benefit by producing more.


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