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Future Scenarios for Agriculture in Malawi: Challenges and Dilemmas

Author: Ephraim W. Chirwa, Jonathan Kydd, Andrew Dorward
Organisation: Futures Agricultures
Publish Date: March 2006
Country: Malawi
Sector: Agriculture
Method: Forecasting
Theme: Food
Type: Assement
Language: English
Tags: Malawi, Agriculture, Scenarios

Agriculture plays an overwhelmingly important role in the economy. In the 2004 Malawi Economic Growth Strategy it is stated to account for 39% of GDP, 85% of the labour force and 83% of foreign exchange earnings. It is possible that these estimates overstate the role of agriculture, for example by understating activity in the rural non-farm economy, and over-estimating some categories of agricultural production, but even if this is the case the country is very heavily agriculture dependent. An additional consideration is that manufacturing is only 11% of GDP, but, of this, a full 26% is agro-processing (an estimate which excludes textiles, which uses some domestic cotton production). In recent years agriculture’s share in GDP has tended to rise, although this is less a consequence of dynamism in the sector, and more the result of dismal developments in manufacturing. Food insecurity problems are exacerbated by the widely changeable food prices particularly since the liberalisation of agricultural produce marketing and the removal of price controls on maize. When surveyed in 2004, 45% of rural households indicated that their economic well-being had deteriorated over the year prior to the survey and revealed that they had been affected badly by the rise in food prices.
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