Malawi: From Grace to Grass

Published on 24th November 2015

Malawi is asking donors to fund its crop seeds following government failure to pay suppliers a K155 billion in arrears. From 2004-8, Malawi achieved  high agricultural productivity and food security. Considered one of the poorest countries in the world at the time, Malawi saw poverty decline from 60% to 40% and  the country’s food surplus reach 1.3 million metric tons in  the 2008/9 season.

The country’s fortunes however changed after a diplomatic spat with UK that saw the UK envoy expelled. Western donors, primarily the UK, withheld aid to the country, particularly financial support which constituted 40% of its budget. Fuel shortages, rising prices, high unemployment and dissenting voices arose, sparking protests.

Malawi’s plight offers vital lessons to the rest of Africa. It is doubtful that the booming economy was genuinely local. It is imperative that African countries wean themselves off foreign aid as it produces artificial economies and sends negative ripples when withheld. The continent ought to nurture, grow and service its internal market before looking outwards. This will cushion it from the shock of falling exports.

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