Who owns our land and who is being equipped to be productive contributors to the economy? Is the Economic Recovery Plan being shaped by evidence? What can the mining sector learn from Malawi’s largest economic sector, Agriculture?
According to recent research by Blessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa, published in a gated paper “Youth, Agriculture and Land Grabs in Malawi” (in Young People and Agriculture in Africa, 2012, Institute for Development Studies), “While agriculture remains the principal source of livelihood in Malawi and young people are a dominant constituent in the country’s demographic structure, they are not fully engaged in the sector”. The authors explain that this is because agriculture is not included in young people’s conception of a “good life”. The government’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme and Green Belt Initiative (GBI) have marginalised youth; the GBI in particular has limited young people’s access to land who are being relegated to the position of casual labourers, and land reforms are slow because the “elite […] are protecting their own interests”.
Chinsinga and Chasukwa conclude that “the strengths of the youth in the sector include latent energy, capacity and ability to produce, and an excellent source of ideas and innovation. The situation that young people find themselves in is exacerbated by policy that does not support their productive involvement in agriculture. Add to this the fact that increasing numbers of young experts are shunning deployment to rural areas, and it is clear why young people are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of starting up in farming, even if they have the interest, land and capital to do so.”