World Bank provides $265m for scaling up agriculture commercialization, improving food resilience in Malawi

The World Bank has approved US$265 million [approximately MK268 billion] to scale up agriculture commercialization and improve food resilience in Malawi.

The grant will also see Lilongwe establishing six new irrigation schemes, support an additional 560 productive alliances that target more than 112, 000 households, and work with smallholder farmers to execute productivity-enhancing investments with support of a $250 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) and a $15 million grant from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.

The grant has been approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, according to a statement from the World Bank in our possession.

The statement further discloses that the new financing is part of the third phase of the regional Food Systems Resilience Program for Eastern and Southern Africa (FSRP).

“The regional program has an overall envelope of $2.75 billion and aims to increase the resilience of food systems and preparedness for food insecurity in the participating countries.  It provides a platform for cooperation and cross-learning along a number of pillars which includes rebuilding agricultural productive capacity, better managing natural resources, getting to markets and improving national and regional policies to enhance resilience,” reads the statement.

It adds that the program will scale up many of the successful interventions and approaches of Malawi’s Agricultural Commercialization Project (AGCOM) as a means of enhancing national and regional food systems resilience.

It will also introduce new elements, including climate-smart agriculture and irrigation systems, investments in research and extension services, as well as support to the authorities to implement resilience-enhancing policy reforms.

World Bank Country Manager for Malawi Hugh Riddell says AGCOM is delivering on Malawi’s Vision 2063’s core goal of agricultural transformation; hence, their decision to support it.

“We are therefore excited that, with support from the FSRP, Malawi has an opportunity to scale this intervention nationally and collaborate and learn how to tackle food systems resilience with the other participating countries in the region. Developing viable and sustainable value chains is key to national food security, as well as boosting foreign exchange for the country’s broader economic needs,”saysRiddell.

He adds that the project in Malawi will also prioritize building climate-resilient infrastructure that is designed and built in a way that anticipates, prepares for, and adapts to changing climate conditions since Malawi currently depends largely on rain-fed agriculture.

In his remarks, Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Sam Kawale, commended the World Bank for the timely support to the country.

Sam Kawale

Kawale said agriculture is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy and any investments made in this sector have a multiplier effect towards the country’s economic transformation and general improvements in the livelihoods of our people, including strengthening food security.

“With lessons learnt from AGCOM, we expect the scaling up of some interventions within the new project will likely have a great impact on the overall economy,” he said.

FSRP for Eastern and Southern Africa has already committed close to $1.7 billion in the first three phases of its program. Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Somalia and Tanzania are being joined by the African Union Commission (AUC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), to help facilitate learning and action across borders. More countries are expected to join.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Sosten Gwengwe, has said this major investment that the World Bank is making in agricultural transformation is embedded in the wider policy framework for small and medium enterprise (SME) development, and export promotion and facilitation.

Gwengwe further stated that the new phase of this project gives us confidence that we have the capacity and ability to deliver results that have potential to transform the lives of Malawians, and we will continue to undertake actions and policy reforms so that we sustain the economic transformational efforts.

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.

IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries.

Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa. Learn more online: #IDAworks.

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