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Malawi Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Tropical climate and fertile soil have made Malawi's agriculture very productive, especially in the central parts. Agriculture is the driving force in the country's economy, even though drought and floods pose a recurring threat.
The most important food crop is maize, but also cassava, millet, peanuts, beans and rice are grown. Really dry years, corn must be imported, but good rainy years export the surplus.
In 2010, agriculture accounted for one-third of gross domestic product (GDP) and almost all export earnings. Malawi's by far the most important export crop is tobacco followed by tea and sugar. The country is Africa's second largest tea producer after Kenya. Rice, cotton, rubber and peanuts are also important for exports, which come mainly from plantation cultivation but also from family farming.
About 85 percent of Malawians are small farmers who grow mainly for their own use. These small farms occupy about 80 percent of the cultivated land. Farmers find it difficult to get credit for investment, and they use traditional working methods and hand tools as a hack. To cater for their livelihood, many must also take temporary jobs on the plantations.
Virtually all arable land has been put to use and land scarcity prevails. This has caused the land to be used too intensively. Fields have been depleted and harvests have decreased. Dependence on imported fertilizers is great, but small farmers cannot afford to buy fertilizers. Around the turn of the millennium, donors helped 2.5 million small farmers with seed packages and fertilizers. Since 2005, the Malawian government has been distributing artificial fertilizers to the very poorest. The subsidies of artificial fertilizers are a central part of the agricultural policy, which has been of great importance for the harvest and thus the survival. The plans are also to invest heavily in irrigation. A growing number of farmers have successfully returned to organic farming using traditional methods.
Deforestation is a major problem. It is estimated that 400,000 hectares of forest are harvested per year. 90 percent of the felled trees are used as firewood. In northern Malawi, coniferous and eucalyptus trees have been planted for the purpose of eventually providing raw material for the production of paper.
Fish accounts for an important part of the population's protein needs and around 200,000 people are estimated to be employed in the fish industry. Several of Malawi's lakes are threatened by depletion, as poor harvests have forced poor farmers to increasingly rely on fishing. In addition, falling water levels and pollution pose a threat to the fish stock. In 2001, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, which share the Malawi lake between themselves, decided to jointly manage and conserve the lake's resources.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
26.1 percent (2017)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
61.4 percent (2016)
Nine are charged with treason
The trial starts against nine former ministers and senior officials accused of treason. According to the prosecutor, they must have tried to seize power in connection with the sudden death of Banda's representative Mutharika in April 2012.
Deputy minister arrested for murder
The recently deposed Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara is arrested, accused of participating in the assassination attempt of the Ministry of Finance's budget head in September.
Assistance freezes inside
The World Bank, the EU and other countries in Europe are freezing their aid to Malawi because of the "cashgate" corruption legacy (see September 2013).
The government dismissed
President Banda dismisses the entire government after it was discovered that a number of high-ranking officials within the president's own administration approved payments of the equivalent of $ 3 million to a company that only existed on paper. All but four ministers are reinstated when a new government is presented a few days later. The corruption legacy called "cashgate" grows during the month.
Comprehensive corruption is rolled up
A fraud in the police concludes with nine high-ranking policemen being sentenced to 14 years in prison each for embezzling more than SEK 1 million from the police's cash register. Shortly thereafter, Paul Mphwiyo, budget manager at the Ministry of Finance, is subjected to a murder attempt but survives. According to the government, Mphwiyo had set up a network of corruption and after the attack the worst corruption crisis in the country's history is rolled up. The scandal that gets the name "cashgate" in the media is about businessmen and politicians in collaboration with officials making fake payments of many millions from the state's cash register for goods and services that were never delivered. Over the following months, more than 70 people are arrested for involvement in this.
Criminal call the President "stupid"
A court sentenced a man to the equivalent of $ 45 in fines for calling President Banda "stupid". The judge says he hopes the verdict will teach citizens to respect the head of state and that there are limits to freedom of speech.
Twelve arrested for coup plans
Four former ministers and eight senior officials are arrested on suspicion of planning to overthrow the government following President Mutharika's death in April 2012. Among those arrested is according to police, Mutharika's younger brother Peter. The arrested must have tried to prevent Vice President Joyce Banda from taking over the presidential post in accordance with the Constitution. The arrests took place after an official investigation showed that the four ministers had tried to persuade the army to take power. They are released on bail after a few days and are prohibited from leaving the country. The following day, one of the suspects, the Minister of Financial Planning, Goodall Gondwe resigns.