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EU and Malawi Work Together to Improve Agricultural Production

18 October 2012

EU & MALAWI - EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and the President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, have signed two agreements, which will help Malawi to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

The EU will contribute to a new government programme designed to strengthen agricultural productivity and expand the area under irrigation. With this programme, Malawi aims to increase its maize yield by two thirds and almost double household incomes in agriculture. This will contribute to the goal of six per cent of annual growth in Malawi.

A second EU contribution will fund cash transfers to extremely poor households to help them out of poverty and hunger. It will make families more resistant to shocks like high food prices, but also improve school enrolment and health. This EU support is expected to provide benefits to a total of 83,000 households.

Speaking at the European Development Days in Brussels, Commissioner Piebalgs commented: "During this, my first meeting with President Joyce Banda, I confirmed the EU's readiness to support the President's efforts to put Malawi on the path towards development. These two programmes illustrate what EU aid is about: helping the most vulnerable to survive and, at the same time, supporting partner countries in their strategy to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth. We will give urgently-needed help to the poorest, such as households of children orphaned by AIDS that have no possibility to earn money. Our support for agriculture and irrigation will underpin the ambitious plans of the Malawi government. It will create substantial growth in this sector which forms the backbone of the country's economy."

The EU will support two interlinked government initiatives (€63 million). On the one hand, the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp) intends to increase productivity, especially of small farmers. Among other things, it will provide maize and legume seeds at reduced prices and fight land degradation.

The second initiative supports irrigation, by giving farmers better access to irrigated agriculture and by developing medium and large scale irrigation schemes. Such measures will make farmers less dependent on rain falls for growing their crops so they can move from one harvest per year to three annual cropping cycles.

The government-run Social Cash Transfer Programme will pay an average monthly amount of €6 to households that are extremely poor because they have no breadwinners. Most of these families are headed by grandmothers who care for orphans whose parents have died of AIDS. Unable to earn money through work, they represent the poorest and most vulnerable in Malawi. The EU contribution of €35 million will allow scaling up the coverage and will be implemented in collaboration with Germany. Once fully rolled out, the programme will provide support to 300,000 households, as part of the government's objective to reduce the number of extremely poor people from 15 per cent to seven per cent; EU funding should reach 83,000 of these.

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