Malawi press tasks government on policy following APRA brief

APRA policy research has recently been featured in Malawi’s The Nation newspaper, as well as on the publication’s website.  “Inducing agribusiness investment in Malawi: Insights from investors,” written by APRA researchers Henry Chingaipe, Joseph Thombozi and Horace Chingaipe, investigate the flaws in Malawi’s investment model in agribusiness and provides several policy recommendations on how to encourage business investment in agricultural commercialisation.

The authors emphasise that, with more than 80 per cent of the workforce employed in the sector, agriculture is key to Malawi’s development strategy. Yet, government investment in agricultural commercialisation has been low, national financial institutions lack agribusiness-friendly policies, and access to land necessary for commercial agriculture has been a challenge.

The government should undertake reforms to increase certainty and predictability in the administration of business incentives by reducing the latitude of discretion of bureaucratic and political executives in the granting of incentives, state the brief authors.

The newspaper article, published on Tuesday, 22 September, highlights the key policy recommendations to the Malawi Government that are featured in the brief. These include advice that in order to spearhead transformational agricultural commercialisation, the Malawi Government should streamline its business incentives. More specifically, these incentives should encourage private sector enterprises to adopt inclusive business models that connect a large number of smallholder farmers to reliable markets that pay decent prices.

Henry Chingaipe

“APRA has…urged the government to support the creation of a tailor-made financial institution…that would ease access to business finance for investments in agriculture and agribusiness”

The Nation, Malawi

Responding to the article, APRA researcher Henry Chingaipe said:

“The article has helped the dissemination of our research work to policymakers and development actors. The National Planning Commission has described the findings and recommendations as ‘insightful’ for their planning work on increasing agricultural productivity and commercialisation while GIZ, the German donor agency, prompted by the newspaper article, reached out to us to ask for a copy of the policy brief to inform their own programming on agribusiness initiatives.”

Henry Chingaipe

APRA Malawi is part of the wider APRA consortium that focuses on which ‘pathways’ to agricultural commercialisation are the most effective in empowering women, reducing rural poverty and improving food and nutrition security in sub-Saharan Africa. The suggestions made by the authors in this brief could be key in achieving these goals.

Questions addressed by the Malawi study include: ‘Which investment policies and incentive structures successfully influence business investment in African agriculture?’, and ‘Which commercialisation pathways have emerged as a result of the investment incentivised by policy?’ It is through effectively addressing these questions that agribusiness in Malawi will grow, benefiting its people in the process.

Access Brief 26 for free, here.

Feature photo credit: Melissa Cooperman/IFPRI