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Agriculture and Food Security

Last updated: 08.10.2014 // Information about Norwegian Development Cooperation in Malawi focusing on Agriculture and Food Security.

2013: NOK 170 million ≈ USD 28.5 million (USD 1 ≈ NOK 6)

Agriculture is Malawi’s most important economic sector, employing the majority of the workforce and earning the bulk of its foreign exchange. Food and nutritional security for all are still proving challenging to achieve and therefore Norwegian development support focuses on programmes that help spread sustainable agricultural technologies (e.g. conservation agriculture, agroforestry and manure making). In addition, the diversification of production to include crops other than maize is promoted. These interventions increase crop yields by rebuilding the natural resource base that all farming depends on. Malawi suffers from serious environmental degradation (deforestation, erosion, depletion of soil nutrients and disappearance of local water sources), and these technologies give farmers the knowledge and expertise to reverse this situation.

Norway contributes to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund, administered by the World Bank. An important part of this support is the Agricultural Sector-Wide Approach (ASWAp) programme, which also encompasses the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP). FISP is administered by the Malawian government to increase access of farmers to various tools, seeds and fertilizers used for agriculture. For farmers, the better yields mean better household income and health, and the opportunity to develop businesses. The technologies also help make farmers more resilient in the face of a changing climate, by including a livelihood component that contributes to resilience.

Women are at the centre of attention in Norwegian funded programmes, with a specific focus through the funding of UN Women’s project Gender and Agriculture. Women do most of the work on Malawian farmland, and their involvement and input are invaluable for any reform of the agricultural sector. One intervention included in Norwegian funded agricultural programmes with particular benefits for women, is the fuel-efficient cook stove, one that requires less fuel wood and produce less smoke. This provides immediate benefits to women’s health, while also reducing deforestation and the time required for gathering wood.

The Embassy also provides assistance when food shortages occur. In 2013, Norway contributed to the humanitarian assistance operation, financing 36 % of the public maize provision. Such response programmes are funded according to the severity of food shortage, through the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) and the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Supplementary Feeding Programme. Support of this kind is sometimes channelled through NGOs directly involved in food distribution.

Some of the partners in the agricultural sector include NASFAM, WFP, LUANAR, We Effect, AICC, Total Land Care and the Norwegian Development Fund.

Results example (source: Norad)

According to NSAFAM Development Impact Assessment, the organisation has contributed to higher productivity in agriculture. 50 percent of NASFAM smallholder farmers produce enough food to feed their families as compared to 32 percent for small-scale farmers in general. Norway’s contributions have also assisted in NASFAM’s work to diversify farmers’ crops, from tobacco and maize to cotton, rice, peanuts, soy, chilli and paprika. NASFAM-farmers peanuts have also been approved as Fair Trade products.

In terms of better food security and resilience to climate change, conservation agriculture is a major tool for achieving such goals. Crop rotation and combining crops with legume farming minimises soil degradation, and yields are estimated to increase by 20-30 percent.

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