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Cooperation for Agribusiness Development in Malawi

Various projects and organizations in Malawi are promoting small and medium size agribusiness companies and the transition of subsistence smallholder farmers into commercial smallholder farmers. Malawi badly needs growth and value addition in its agricultural sector. The main bottlenecks are lack of knowledge and management capacity and collective action on the part of the smallholders, highly insufficient financial and non financial business development services for the agribusiness sector, insufficient policy and regulatory framework support, inadequate and costly infrastructure and an ailing macro economic investment climate. The sector needs a multidimensional approach to foster development and only through strong collaboration of the various interventions can progress be achieved.

The IBF in Malawi has taken the initiative to start coordination of stakeholders in the sector but up to now only a few of the major stakeholders have participated. Major players such as NASFAM, Mzuzu Coffee, FIDP, Finca, OVOP and crucial private companies such as major retailers are not connected. In addition, the network should lead to actual comprehensive actions of all stakeholders in the value chain. Such actions have not started to take place. My question is how are we going to improve our collaboration to the level experienced in other countries where all stakeholders in a value chain cooperate to maximize the value addition in the chain (see for example the fruits sector in South Africa where farmers, universities, financing institutions, government, processors and traders/exporters strongly cooperate)? Much more needs to be done than only a few meetings a year and new media needs to be used. All ideas are welcome!

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