The economy of Malawi is based primarily on agriculture, which accounts for slightly under 40% of gross national product, and over 90% of the country’s export earnings. At least 80% of agricultural produce comes from small family farmers on customary land. The rest is produced by commercial farmers on large estates. The main crops grown are maize, tobacco, tea, sugar cane, groundnuts, cotton, wheat, coffee, and rice.

Malawi is an exporter of primarily produce and a net importer of industrial goods. Its major exports include tobacco, tea, sugar, and groundnuts. Its major imports are intermediate (chemical and allied) goods for industry.

The country’s exports are dominated by tobacco, tea and sugar. They account for approximately 85% of Malawi’s domestic exports. Imports are dominated by capital goods and industrial equipment. In the past three years, during the severe drought, food imports have risen significantly.

Malawi’s main trading partners are its immediate neighbors with South Africa emerging as a major trading partner for Malawi. Exports include beans and pulses, dhals, chillies, tobacco, tea, coffee, macadamia nuts, rice, confectionery, ceramics, textiles, crafts, farm implements, fishing flies, furniture, gemstones, enamelware, rubber, live tropical fish, cut flowers, buses, and trailers.

Malawi is listed as one of the poorest nations on earth, with most of its population living in small mud hut thatched roof villages, or rural trading centers.

The Malawian monetary exchange is the tambala (similiar to the US penny) and the Malawian kwacha (similar to a US dollar).

Scenes from the Malwian economy