At a glance - agriculture in Malawi

Tobacco, tea, cotton, groundnuts, sugar and coffee have been the main cash crops in Malawi for decades, with tobacco gradually increasing in importance. The government has sought to put a greater focus on agriculture and nutrition, but there are numerous challenges for smallholders in Malawi, not least the weather, with only one rainy season each year.  To address these challenges and leverage opportunities, Malawi has developed the Agricultural Sector-Wide Approach through a consultative process with a range of stakeholders. Grow Africa’s activities complement Malawi’s own efforts to transform the agriculture sector through private sector-led inclusive investment.

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Malawi is a partnership agreement between the Government of Malawi, the private sector and development partners on targeted actions needed to promote agriculture investment and, consequently, food and nutrition security in Malawi. Policy commitments focus on four main areas to ensure a strong enabling environment for agriculture and food security investments:

  • Creating a conducive business environment with reduced risks and fair returns for smallholders;
  • Improving access to water and basic infrastructure; 
  • Improving productivity, storage and packaging of produce; and 
  • Increasing production and use of nutritious foods to improve public health.

Development partners have committed to funding worth US$ 685.4 million to aid Malawi’s agriculture sector in the 2011 – 2020 period and businesses have committed US$144.7 million. It is expected that, through this partnership, more private investment will be seen in the sector as the government implements change at policy level to improve the investment environment.

Grow Africa’s work in Malawi

Grow Africa has helped foster a one-stop shop for potential investors, and has incubated and supported a cross-sector working group on agricultural investment. In addition to our work with private-sector investors, Grow Africa partners with two farmer organisations, the National Union of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (NASFAM) and the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), and the national government.

A total of 27 companies (13 domestic and 14 international) have Letters of Intent in Malawi, with a combined commitment of $144.75 million, $39.5 million of which has already been invested, with 10% of LOI companies having already completed their investment plan. So far, LOI investment has reached almost 540,000 smallholders, mainly through input products and services, financial or data services and through training. It has created nearly 1,300 jobs, 24% of them held by women, and has led to the production or procurement of $8.3 million in commodities.

Although many multi-stakeholder platforms exist in Malawi, they are often slow-moving and do not achieve results that extend beyond policy dialogue. To close this gap, Grow Africa has engaged Monitor Deloitte to complete the first phase of a pilot project, known as Fuller Harvest, in Malawi, to bring relevant stakeholders together as a way to progress action on barriers to investment in the agriculture sector. 

The Grow Africa Finance Working Group is also working to strengthen the World Food Programme Patient Procurement Platform (PPP) in Malawi, which is currently hampered by limited grain availability.

Projects, Platforms, and Working Groups

New best practice on business models

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Investment Opportunities

Government - Driven Investment Opportunities

Opportunities to invest in agriculture projects

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