Agriculture in MalawiMalawi is small, landlocked country in central south-eastern Africa. It stretches north to south for about 835 km. It is only 80 to 160 km wide. Malawi's borders Mozambique on the east, south and west. Its western border is with Zambia and Tanzania lies to the north. Most of Malawi's eastern border is Lake Nyasa (called Lake Malawi in Malawi). The lake's shoreline is a flat plain with many swamps. The Songwe River feeds Lake Nyasa in the north. The Shire River, the outlet for Lake Nyasa, flows south through Lake Malombe to join the Zambezi River as a tributary.
Malawi is classified into three agro-ecological zones (AEZs) based on soil factors, altitude, the amount, duration, and variability of rainfall, and temperature regimes4: the Lower Shire valley; the lakeshore plains and Upper Shire valley; and the mid-altitude plateau, with the highlands sometimes counted as a fourth. There are two distinct seasons: a wet, warm season from October to April, and a dry, cool season from May to September. Plateaus cover about three-fourths of Malawi's land area. The plateaus have a varied terrain that includes plains, rounded mountains, inselbergs (“island mountains”), and forests. While 5,738,000 ha (approximately 61% of the land area) are suitable for agriculture, only 2,500,000 ha are under cultivation. Permanent meadows and pastures, forest area, and other forms of land cover account for roughly 20%, 34% and 5% of land area, respectively. Land ownership is skewed: the wealthy own more land and have better tenure security. There are also inter-regional variations in land holdings: the southern region has fewer households (3%) cultivating 4-6 acres, while other regions are cultivating circa 8 acres. More than 90% of agri-production is rain-fed with only 4% of the total cultivated area irrigated.
Large-scale producers are almost exclusively involved in production of tobacco, tea, sugar, and macadamia for export. Small-scale producers are mostly subsistence farmers cultivating maize, rice, cassava, legumes and sweet potato5. The biggest estates are located in Thyolo, Mulanje and Nsanje districts in the south (for tea production), and some areas in the central and northern regions (for tobacco production). Sometimes these large farms engage smallholder farmers through contract farming.
Agriculture plays a major role in the economy of Malawi. In 2020, the share of agriculture in Malawi's gross domestic product was 21.09 percent. Over 80% of the economically active population were engaged in agriculture, which was main source of livelihood for more than 2 million rural smallholder farmers.
Tobacco is the major national export (66% of agricultural export). Raw sugar, tea, groundnut, and cotton lint are also significant export products (11%, 9%, 3% and 2.7% of total exports, respectively). Smallholder farmers disproportionately produce crops for domestic consumption. They produce approximately 80% of all food consumed in Malawi. The major domestic food crops are maize, rice, cassava, legumes, sweet potato and Irish potato. Livestock production is concentrated in the northern region mostly under extensive grazing in communal lands. Intensive livestock production is found mostly on the estates. The most common livestock in Malawi are cattle, goats, pigs and poultry. Approximately 51% of households own livestock . Goats are kept across all the country’s livelihood zones, while cattle are kept in 10 of the 18 livelihood zones, mostly by the wealthy, who use them for milk, and, in the case of oxen, for draft power.
Forest industry in MalawiForests account for 4% of Malawi’s total wealth and 7.5% of its natural capital Still, Malawi lost over half of its natural forests between 1972 and 1992 – a rate of 2.5% per year. When forests are cut down, the resulting high rates of soil erosion adversely affect the water table which puts this already impoverished country into further economic and environmental stress.
Fish industry in MalawiLake Malawi is the most speciose lake in the world and contains more species (500 +) of fish than are found in the entire Western North Atlantic. These fish have a direct economic impact on 5-10% of Malawi's families (between 1/4 and j of a million people) and provide protein for 75% of the population (between 4 and 4j million people). The fishing techniques in Malawi are generally labour intensive. Most small-scale traditional fishery resources are free to be harvested by anyone, this open access nature of the fishery frequently leads to biological overfishing. In Malawi most fishing families also raise crops (predominately maize)and livestock(typically chickens and goats).
Below list of species being frequently caught in Malawi Lake
a) Tilapia Oreochromis
b) "Haplochromis" (Cyrtocara) species (primarily utaka)
c) Barbus species
d) Clarias species
e) Lethrinops species
f) Bagpus meriodinalis
g) Engralicypris sardella
h) Labeo mesops