Malawi Works With the UK on Wheat Varieties


Mar 27, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Malawi is a landlocked country in Southeastern Africa with a population of over 20 million. In Malawi, Wheat is favorably grown in districts such as Mzimba, Rumphi in the northern region, Mwanza, Neno, Mangochi, Mulanje, Blantyre, and Chiradzulu, in the Southern region, and Ntchisi district in the Central region.

However, Wheat production from the whole districts remains below 5,000 metric tons per year, with an average yield of 974 kilograms per hectare, far below the consumption demand. Though Malawi’s Wheat production has fluctuated substantially in recent years, it tended to increase in 1968 – 2017, but only 745 tons were realized. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates, only one thousand tons of Wheat were cultivated in Malawi in 2020.

One area where Wheat was grown in large quantities was Neno district. But the poor organization of the farmers and lack of consistent marketing has led to the decline of crop in the district. Agricultural Extension Development Officer for Neno Extension Planning Area (EPA) Masautso Dzumani said Wheat production has gone very low due to the disorganization of farmers growing the crop. District Agricultural Development Officer for Rumphi, Lumbani Msiska said Wheat farming is decreasing due to marketing challenges.

The current demand for Wheat in Malawi is estimated to be 200,000 tons/year, with a projected growth in consumption of 3%–6% annually. The current gap between the supply and demand of Wheat in Malawi is extensive, with 99% imported due to low domestic production. The main actors in the value chain include importers, millers, bakeries, biscuit manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. In total, 45% of milled flour is utilized by commercial bakeries, 46% is distributed to rural and urban outlets, and biscuit manufacturers utilize 9%. In Malawi, Wheat is used for making bread and scones, consumed mainly by people in urban areas, and mandazi, consumed as snacks across rural and urban areas.

Production constraints include the lack of a national Wheat development strategy, stable markets, unavailability of improved varieties, low input use, and limited knowledge of Wheat crop management. Currency devaluation and limited forex reserves further affect the domestic market’s annual import volumes and Wheat flour prices. Domestic production and broader value chain opportunities could be increased through policy support, including research for development, expansion of production into non-traditional Wheat growing areas, investment in irrigation, and developing market systems.

Technology Transfer Officer in the Department of Agricultural Research Benjamin Chisama lauds researchers for their tireless efforts in rejuvenating the Wheat crop so that, like maize, it can be at the center of Malawians’ lives. Research remains important in efforts aimed at improving agricultural productivity in Malawi. “We, as a country, are self-sufficient in corn and rice production, but we need to do more research on Wheat, which is key to bread-making and plays an important role in the crop value chain. We, therefore, commend Luanar (The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources) for this initiative,” Chisama said.

Plant Breeding and Genetics in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Luanar has been working with the United Kingdom-based University of Nottingham to develop improved Wheat varieties through cross-breeding and other forms of research.

Malawi Wheat Import

In 2020, Malawi imported Wheat worth $38.7 million, becoming the world’s 103rd-largest importer of Wheat. In the same year, Wheat was Malawi’s 12th most imported product. Malawi imports Wheat primarily from: Russia ($27 million), Canada ($8.1 million), Mozambique ($1.9 million), Argentina ($1.27 million), and Ukraine ($222k).

The fastest-growing import markets in Wheat for Malawi between 2019 and 2020 were Russia ($15 million), Argentina ($1.27 million), and Ukraine ($222k).

Other sources: TIMES

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