Govt embarks on policy reforms to attract FDI in agriculture

(CU)_The economy of Malawi is heavily dependent on the agricultural, with nearly 80 per cent of the country’s population employed in the industry. Over the recent years, the sector has been reporting a significant slowdown, particularly on account of external shocks such as climate change, and the situation has been further intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a significant portion of the population not expected to be vaccinated until at least mid-2022.

These circumstances are having a heavy impact on the economy, with growth declining to 1 per cent in 2020, in comparison to previous projections of 4.8 per cent. Nevertheless, experts are of the view that a host of measures launched recently could see economic growth rebounding this year, with the government embarking on serious policy reforms and infrastructure development, with the aim of attracting foreign direct investment to the agricultural sector.

Speaking during a virtual Malawi Agribusiness Deal Room, as part of the 2021 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Lobin Lowe, noted that the a several initiatives have been launched to ensure the industry can continue to strengthen the economy without hindrances and to guarantee returns on investments.

The Minister pointed to the amendments made to the Control of Goods Act, which improves the ease of access to improved seed and fertilizers, streamlines registration processes and provides assurance to investors that they will not experience adhoc export bans.

“As I am talking, we are reviewing the National Agriculture Policy to align to our long term ambitions in Agenda 2063. And recognizing the importance of agriculture to our economy, our country is offering import duty and VAT free on importation of livestock meant for breeding, import duty, import excise and VAT free on importation of irrigation equipment,” Lowe said in his address.

He further noted that a host of tariff incentives are also being offered on the agricultural sector, including an exemption of duty importation of goods and equipment used for farming, adding that the government intends to position Malawi as an attractive investment destination.

“I want you to listen to some investment opportunities that we are pitching while I encourage you to look at our Compendium of bankable projects for your investment. I am personally available to support you and ensure that we succeed together. I will be looking forward to hearing from you,” Lowe added.

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