Malawi’s vice president has stated that rapid diversification in the agricultural sector, which is the country’s driving power, is critical for the country’s tangible national progress.

To that end, Vice President Saulos Chilima has urged research and policy specialists assembled at a national agricultural policy conference in Lilongwe to speed up the commercialisation and diversification of the agricultural sector for national growth.

Chilima made the call Tuesday when he presided over the official opening of the 2021 Malawi Annual Agricultural Policy Conference at BICC in the capital, Lilongwe.

“We need to swiftly move beyond crop enterprise into other non-traditional enterprises, such as livestock and fisheries.

“This is the only way we will be able to achieve the transformation we have espoused in both the National Agriculture Policy (NIV) and National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP),” he said.

Several cabinet ministers, policymakers and high profile researchers are attending the two-day conference, where research findings will be presented and deliberated upon.

This year, the event is being held under the theme, “Supporting Agriculture Transformation in Malawi: Beyond Research to Implementation.”

“The importance of this conference cannot be overemphasized as it also seeks to effectively recommend quick-win initiatives for implementation under the first pillar of the MW2063 using research-based evidence,” said Chilima.

Chilima said the timing of the conference and its theme resonates well with the tenets of the MW2063 under the Pillar of Agriculture Productivity and Commercialization as well as the Tonse Alliance’s commitment to the agriculture sector development.

” I do believe that having clear and relevant guidance from sector experts is very important for us because the mega socio-economic trends for the country are currently pointing to an impending socio-economic crisis if we do not act decisively now,” said Chilima.

He said the agriculture sector faces several challenges that need quick fixing such as rapid population growth, acute land scarcity, stagnant agricultural growth, and limited off-farm employment opportunities.

“It is clear that transforming the agricultural sector holds the key for enhancing and sustaining the socioeconomic transformation our country yearns for,” he said.

The Malawi Agriculture Advancement and Transformation Agenda (MwAPATA) Institute in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture; the National Planning Commission; the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources; the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry; the Civil Society Agriculture Network; and the Donor Committee on Agriculture and Food Security have jointly organised the conference.

The conference is part of a series of annual conferences aimed at providing stakeholders with a platform for disseminating new research findings to stakeholders, exploring partnerships in research, and increasing uptake of new research findings in policy-making processes in the agriculture sector.

It is expected that the research findings presented and discussed at the conference will be integrated into Malawi’s agricultural policy-making processes to support agricultural transformation in line with the Malawi 2063 Vision.

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