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Report on proceedings of the National Consultative dialogue meeting on agricultural inputs development
Lilongwe, Malawi, 25 July 2006
August 2006
Prepared by Timothy Mchekacheka Shawa
Malawi Institute of Management


Foreword

The Malawi chapter of the national consultative dialogue meeting on agricultural inputs development was held on 25th July 2006 at the Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) in Lilongwe. The organisers of the dialogue meeting were the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Research Network (FANRPAN) and Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET). FANRPAN is a regional network in Southern Africa, while CISANET is the regional network's country node in Malawi.

The report presents summaries of the various research papers based on the presentations that were made during the consultative dialogue by the various researchers. Since stakeholder feedback on the papers was the fundamental interest of the consultative dialogue, the report presents only stakeholder comments over and above paper summaries on each of the papers without necessarily presenting the responses that the researchers made to stakeholder comments. To balance this, however, only those comments that the researchers agreed were pertinent as they finalised the reports are included here. Comments that were clarified and hence needed no further attention by the researchers are not reported.

The report is organised into two sections: Summaries of the papers and stakeholder comments form the material of the first section, while the second section presents the consultative dialogue's conclusions and the next steps following dialogue.

The first presentation of the day was an overview of role of FANRPAN and the objectives of the consultative dialogue meeting by FANRPAN's Programme Officer, Mr Fred Kalibwani1.

Mr Kalibwani explained that FANRPAN is an autonomous regional network of policy research into food, agriculture and natural resources, which is recognised by governments, universities, agri-business and civil society as a platform for interface between policy and science. It provides a multi-country policy dialogue. The policy pathway for FANRPAN moves from country institutions to the regional stakeholders' forum through the FANRPAN secretariat. It is through the secretariat that dialogue is with regional coordination blocks, such as SADC and NEPAD/AU and other transcontinental ones like the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Kalibwani explained that the network's work revolves around four thematic thrusts, namely: markets and trade; HIV/AIDS issues and agriculture; strengthening institutional capacity for policy development; and natural resources and knowledge management. The fundamental objective of FANRPAN is to develop and establish a conducive policy environment for a food secure SADC.

Pursuant of FANRPAN's overall objectives, the network commissioned four multi-country policy studies of agricultural inputs. The first study looked at the importance of relief seed and opportunities for improving the contribution of relief seed programmes to seed market development. The second study was commissioned to assess the different ways in which relief seed and other input vouchers are being programmed and to determine ways in which these can best benefit both farmers and commercial seed markets. The third study looked at food aid and commercial imports of genetically modified (GM) commodities in Malawi. The fourth study was on fertiliser trade, with the aim of identifying the policy and regulatory issues that are a barrier to effective private sector engagement and free movement of fertiliser across the SADC and COMESA member countries.

After the brief background to the studies, Mr. Kalibwani explained the aims of the national dialogue meeting. The aims of the workshop were as follows:

  • To share the findings and recommendations of the FANRPAN agricultural inputs studies in Malawi and get stakeholder feedback;
  • To provide a platform for stakeholders, charged with increasing agriculture productivity in key national food, agriculture and natural resources (FANR) sectors, to discuss national and regional strategies for input intensification;
  • To identify key national and regional level policy recommendations for the intensification and market development of agricultural inputs ahead of the FANRPAN regional policy dialogue.

Footnote:
  1. Programme Officer, FANRPAN secretariat, Pretoria, South Africa.

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