Agriculture Sector

The agriculture sector employs 64 percent of the country’s workforce and represents about 80 percent of the country’s exports. On average, the sector contributes 22.5% to the country’s GDP.

The main staple crop is maize, which is mainly grown by smallholder farmers at the subsistence level. Production varies, and depending on climate conditions, maize may be imported or exported. Sorghum, millet, pulses, root crops, and fruits are also grown.

Although there is potential for better production and productivity, the agriculture sector operates below its capacity. As a result, the country continuously faces food shortages.

Malawi’s commercial farming sector is concentrated on large estates in the south and around Lilongwe district. Its main product is tobacco, which typically accounts for between 50 and 70 percent of Malawi’s export earnings.

The liberalization of the industry in the 1990s has caused a steady increase in profits for growers and a sharp rise in smallholder tobacco production, making Malawi one of the leading tobacco producers in the world.

The sectoral contribution to GDP of the agricultural sector over the past few years, with estimation for 2021 and projections for 2022 and 2023

Sectoral contribution to GDP (%)

The annual percentage growth rate of the agricultural over the past few years, with an estimation for 2021 and projections for 2022 and 2023

Annual percentage growth rate (%)

Investment Opportunities for the Agriculture Sector include​

  • Feed production
  • Breeding of cattle
  • Large scale commercial fishing
  • Cage and pond fish farming
  • Cold rooms and fish transportation infrastructure
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Irrigation scheme for macadamia nuts and tea plantation
  • Processing factories for value addition to make puree, spices, paste and juices
  • Cold rooms and relevant transportation infrastructure
  • Production and processing
  • Sugarcane processing facilities for export markets
  • Large scale production of sugarcane in the areas under the Green Belt Initiative (GBI)
  • Cotton production
  • Processing activities such as ginning, yarn and textile factories
  • Large scale commercial farming along Lake Malawi
  • Starch and flour processing
  • Soya bean production
  • Processing into yoghurt, cheese, cooking oil, cattle feeds and candles