The African Development Fund, the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group, has approved a $20.2 million grant to raise food production in Malawi.
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Part of the African Development Bank Group’s African Emergency Food Production Facility, the project is premised on the existing seed and fertilizer distribution systems in Malawi.
It will provide half a million farm households with 2,500 tons of climate-smart certified cereal and legume seeds, and 70,000 tons of fertilizer. A guarantee scheme managed by the African Fertilizer Financing Mechanism will reach 300,000 farmers.
Each registered farming household will receive two 50 kg bags of fertilizer for basal and top dressing, respectively, and a choice of 5 kg of hybrid and fast-maturing maize, rice, and sorghum seeds. For legumes, farmers will have the option to choose either a 2kg bag of groundnuts and beans or 3 kg bags of soybean, cowpea and pigeon pea.
In partnership with the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program, 1,000 extension staff will receive training in climate-smart agriculture and farm data collection methodologies using new technology. To assist with this, 300 motorbikes will be procured.
Three hundred electronic tablets will be distributed to officers who collect data from farmers’ clubs. Around 700,000 new beneficiaries will be registered on the database of the government’s Affordable Inputs Program, which will implement the project.
Malawi has been significantly impacted by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, causing a spike in fuel and food prices and a foreign exchange shortage. The disruption of international trade has impacted both import and export market prices of various commodities, including fertilizer, whose prices per bag have tripled to Kwacha 90,000 ($75) by May 2022, from Kwacha 30,000 ($25) a year ago.
Other imports affected are wheat, fuel (pump prices have increased by 40%), machinery, and other intermediate goods.
Agriculture plays a key role in Malawi’s economy, contributing about 30% to gross domestic product and 75% of export earnings. Roughly 90% of crops are cultivated by smallholder farmers who rely on fertilizer. ■