Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Malawi agriculture hits new landmark with Purchase for Progress

On July 2nd, Malawi announced its first transaction with the World Food Program's Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative. In the first week of the program, the WFP purchased 50 tons of maize through the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Arica (ACE), a commodity exchange market operating in Malawi, from the Grain and Legumes Association, which is a farmers organization with over 95,000 participating small scale farmers. The P4P initiative provides technical support to small-scale farmers and buys surplus food supplies in order to maintain fair prices, thereby allowing farmers to maintain higher agricultural production and higher quality crops.

The P4P initiative in Malawi is expected to improve the livelihood of over half a million small farmers, most of whom are women, by 2013. The P4P initiative is operating in over 21 countries and it recently expanded it's purchases in Ethiopia. With their newly found profits, Malawian farmers have been able to invest in improved crop storage, seeds and fertilizers for the next growing season.

The P4P initiative is huge step for Malawi, especially when compared to where the country was 5 years ago. In 2005, Malawi was in the middle of a massive famine, with over 13 million of its inhabitants living on emergency food aid. In just two years, however, Malawi had transformed into one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest food exporters. This dramatic change has been dubbed the 'Malawi Miracle.' Through intensive government subsidies for seeds and fertilizer, Malawi was able to nearly triple its production of corn in two years. The 'Malawi Miracle' plan has been so successful that more than a dozen other African countries plan on initiating their own subsidy programs.

-Matthew Thwaites

SOURCES:Statement by WFP Executive Director on Purchase for Progress Initiative in Malawi