EU and Malawi to work together to help the poorest and improve agricultural production

Brussels, 22-10-2012 — / — Today, EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and the President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, 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 6% 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.”

Improving Agriculture

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.

Social programme

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% to 7%; EU funding should reach 83,000 of these.


The Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) started as a pilot programme in 2006 in the Mchinji District and has since been scaled up to six additional districts. It has been assessed as highly successful. The programme is already funded by the EU, the German development bank KfW, IrishAid and UNICEF, as well as the government of Malawi. Beyond helping the ultra-poor households, the cash transfers are also expected to benefit the wider local community. In the pilot phase, beneficiaries bought more and better food, as well as fertiliser to increase their own food production. This can make families more resistant to shocks like rising food prices and reduce the need for emergency aid. The programme also pays €0.50 per month for children in primary school, and €1 for secondary school students. This increases enrolment, especially for girls. This EU funding is part of the EU’s €1 billion MDG initiative to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and ranked 171 out of 187 in the UN Human Development Index in 2010. 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. The programme will support the country in achieving the MDG of reducing hunger and poverty. Agriculture and irrigation: EU funding will be pooled in a Multi-Donor Trust Fund that supports its implementation. ASWAp measures include the strengthening of institutions, supporting weather insurance programmes and providing continuous support to the Malawian Farm Input Subsidy Programme through which fertilizer, maize and legume seeds are provided to farmers at reduced prices. The EU also supports the establishment of the National Irrigation Development Fund as a means to facilitate Public Private Partnerships and harmonise support to the irrigation sector under a common framework.

EU cooperation with Malawi

Over the period 2008-2013, EU support to Malawi from the 10th European Development Fund amounts to a total of €551.1 million. Aid focuses on agriculture, food, nutrition security and road transport. Other sectors, in which the EU provides funding include governance, trade, HIV/Aids, gender, sugar, water, energy and cooperation with non-state actors.

For further information

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Website of the European Development Days:

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)


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