Youth, Agriculture and Land Grabs in Malawi

by Blessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa

Malawi has featured in the international media as a potential trigger of the unique version of the African Green Revolution for the rest of the countries to emulate. It has been flagged as such following the success of the fertilizer subsidy programme that has seen Malawi overcome perpetual chronic food shortages to attain unprecedented food surplus. Since the 2005/06 growing season when the subsidy programme was launched, Malawi has been producing surplus food over and above its annual requirements estimated at 2.1 million tones. However, the role of the youth has not featured at all in this success story yet more than half of the population in the country is considered youth. Strikingly, the Malawi’s success story has coincided with the government’s Green Belt initiative under which it is giving out land to large scale local and foreign investors for irrigated agriculture along Lake Malawi and major rivers in the country as a strategy for consolidating the food security gains under the auspices of the fertilizer subsidy programme. The concern is that under the Green Belt initiative, vast tracks of land are being appropriated from smallholder farmers whose land ownership is estimated at an average of 0.5 hectares per capita. This paper explores how the youth are engaging with the Green Belt initiative particularly in terms of how they are engaging with the processes in terms of their roles and what they perceive as potential alternative livelihood strategies within the context of the agri-food sector. The argument of this paper is that the youth are marginalized in the Green Revolution success story because of the stalled land reform and the absence of a supportive policy infrastructure for their involvement.

File: Chinsinga & Chasukwa, Youth, agriculture and land grabs.pdf