President Chakwera launches second phase of AGCOM

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Malawi President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera is on Thursday 16 November , 2023 destined to launch the second phase of the Agricultural Commercialisation Project (AGCOM).

In a statement which Secretary to the President Colleen Zamba has signed, the launch will take place at Chinthembwe Primary School Ground, Traditional Authority Inkosi Vuso Jere in Ntchisi.

“His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi will tomorrow Thursday 16 November 2023: Launch the Agricultural Commercialization (AGcOM 2) Project at Chinthembwe Primary School Ground, Traditional Authority Inkosi Vuso Jere in Ntchisi, and Hold a Development Rally at Ching’ondole Community Ground, Traditional Authority Inkosi Vuso Jere in Ntchisi, ” she said.

In May this year World Bank Approved $265 million to scale up agriculture commercialisation and improve food resilience. With the money, Malawi is set to establish new six irrigation schemes, support an additional 560 productive alliances that target more than 112,000 households, and work with smallholder farmers to execute productivity-enhancing investments.

Out of the total funding $250 million is a grant from the International Development Association (IDA) and $15 million also a grant from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program that was approved by World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.

The new financing is part of phase 3 of the regional Food Systems Resilience Program for Eastern and Southern Africa, or FSRP. The regional program has an overall envelope of $2.75 billion and aims to increase the resilience of food systems and preparedness for food insecurity in the participating countries.

The money will help to provide a platform for cooperation and cross-learning along a number of pillars which includes re-building agricultural productive capacity, better managing natural resources, getting to markets and improving national and regional policies to enhance resilience.

The program will scale up many of the successful interventions and approaches of Malawi’s Agricultural Commercialisation Project (AGCOM) as a means of enhancing national and regional food systems resilience.

The launch of the second phase of the project will also introduce new elements, including climate-smart agriculture and irrigation systems, investments in research and extension services, as well as support to the authorities to implement resilience-enhancing policy reforms.

This is what Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi said few months ago: “AGCOM is delivering on Malawi’s Vision 2063’s core goal of agricultural transformation. We are therefore excited that, with support from the FSRP, Malawi has an opportunity to scale this intervention nationally and collaborate and learn how to tackle food systems resilience with the other participating countries in the region.

“Developing viable and sustainable value chains is key to national food security, as well as boosting foreign exchange for the country’s broader economic needs.”

Sam Kawale, Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture said: “Agriculture is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy and any investments made in this sector have a multiplier effect towards the country’s economic transformation and general improvements in the livelihoods of our people, including strengthening food security.

“With lessons learnt from AGCOM, we expect the scaling up of some interventions within the new project will likely have a great impact on the overall economy.”

The FSRP for Eastern and Southern Africa has already committed close to $1.7 billion in the first three phases of its program. Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Somalia and Tanzania are being joined by the African Union Commission (AUC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), to help facilitate learning and action across borders. More countries are expected to join.

Malawi’s Ministry of Finance said about the phase 3: “This major investment that the World Bank is making in agricultural transformation is embedded in the wider policy framework for small and medium enterprise (SME) development, and export promotion and facilitation.

“The new phase of this project gives us confidence that we have the capacity and ability to deliver results that have potential to transform the lives of Malawians, and we will continue to undertake actions and policy reforms so that we sustain the economic transformational efforts.”

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.

IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa.

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