World Bank is back as it has approved $265 million meant to scale up agriculture commercialization and improve food resilience. To this effect, Malawi will establish new six irrigation schemes and support an additional 560 productive alliances that target more than 112,000 households, and work with smallholder farmers to execute productivity-enhancing investments with support of a $250 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) and a $15 million grant from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program , all this 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. It provides a platform for cooperation and cross-learning along a number of pillars which includes rebuilding agricultural productive capacity, better managing natural resources, getting to markets and improving national and regional policies to enhance resilience.
In a statement released by the World Bank on Thursday, the program will scale up many of the successful interventions and approaches of Malawi’s Agricultural Commercialization Project (AGCOM) as a means of enhancing national and regional food systems resilience. It 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.
“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,” says Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi.
The project in Malawi will also prioritize building climate-resilient infrastructure that is designed and built in a way that anticipates, prepares for, and adapts to changing climate conditions since Malawi currently depends largely on rain-fed agriculture.
“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,” says Sam Kawale, Minister of Agriculture and Member of Parliament.
The World Bank observed that 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.
“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,” says Sosten Gwengwe, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and Member of Parliament.
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.