The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $20.2 million grant to raise food production in Malawi.

With the grant, the AfDB, through the African Development Fund (ADF), aims to provide half a million farm households with 2,500 tonnes of climate-smart certified cereal and legume seeds, and 70,000 tonnes of fertiliser.

Malawi’s Affordable Inputs Programme, it is understood, will implement the project.

The southern African nation has been significantly impacted by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, causing a spike in fuel and food prices and a foreign exchange shortage.

The disruption of international trade has impacted both import and export market prices of various commodities, including fertiliser, whose prices per bag have tripled to Kwacha 90,000 ($75) by May 2022, from Kwacha 30,000 ($25) a year ago.

Other imports affected are wheat, fuel (pump prices have increased by 40 percent), machinery, and other intermediate goods.

Each registered farming household, according to the bank, will receive two 50 kg bags of fertiliser for basal and top dressing, respectively, and a choice of five kg of hybrid and fast-maturing maize, rice, and sorghum seeds.

For legumes, farmers will have the option to choose either a two kg bag of groundnuts and beans or three kg bags of soybean, cowpea and pigeon pea.

‘In partnership with the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program, 1,000 extension staff will receive training in climate-smart agriculture and farm data collection methodologies using new technology. To assist with this, 300 motorbikes will be procured’, the bank said in a statement.

The bank also noted that 300 electronic tablets will be distributed to officers who collect data from farmers’ clubs, and around 700,000 new beneficiaries will be registered on the database of the government’s Affordable Inputs Programme.

Agriculture plays a key role in Malawi’s economy, contributing about 30 percent to gross domestic product and 75 percent of export earnings.

Photo source: USAID in Africa

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