Additional funds target Malawi crop diversification

Maize_fieldMalawi is attempting to become less reliant on its tobacco crop by focusing on a range of other crops such as maize. (Image source: Stefan Glase)The World Bank has announced its intention to send an extra US$30 million to Malawi to support diversification away from the country’s leading export crop of tobacco

The funds are also expected to enable 200,000 smallholder farmers to improve their incomes and become more food secure.

The additional US$30 million credit follows a US$32 million fund provided in 2008 and was approved by the board of the World Bank as Additional Financing (AF) to the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Programme (ASWAp-SP).

World Bank country manager for Malawi, Sandra Bloemenkamp, said, “Malawi’s agriculture sector is dominated by smallholder farmers.

“The World Bank found it appropriate to respond to a government request for more funds to extend to these farmers interventions in support to agricultural diversification and productivity increase, as well as access to markets.”

The bank has said that the additional money would lead to an increase in the number of smallholder farmer households that benefit from project interventions from 300,000 to 500,000.

The number of farmers receiving technical advice from extension services is also set to increase with innovative agricultural technologies and cropping practices being introduced in order to improve the productivity and resilience of the maize-based farming system.

Additionally, the bank has said that part of the AF will be directed towards a programme of activities designed to improve legume crop production, processing and marketing, as well as projects to improve and maintain rural roads that are vital to the country’s agricultural sector.

The AF will also support on-going government efforts to implement agricultural risk management, revealed the bank.

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