Independence Without Food Is Meaningless

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Article Author: Gospel Mwalwanda in Lisbon, Portugal (Malawi News Agency - 10th December 2007)
Article Source: The Malawi Nation Newspaper

President Bingu wa Mutharika [of Malawi] on Saturday reiterated that it does not make any sense for a country to be independent and yet goes on begging for food.

Mutharika was speaking at a special side event organised by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan´s Alliance for a Green Revolution (Agra) at the European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

The event, called Partnerships for a Green Revolution in Africa, was organized to discuss Africa’s agriculture and Agra’s work.

Also present were Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore, Annan, and a top official from the African Development Bank.

Mutharika said food has been vital for mankind from biblical times. He recalled people of those days were able to perform their everyday activities because they were food secure.

He said even when the international community imposed sanctions on the then white-ruled Southern Rhodesia after it unilaterally declared itself independent, the sanctions did not work because the country had food.

Mutharika said Africa needs a revolution to transform the agriculture sector, adding he is already doing it here at home through the fertiliser subsidy programme and other agricultural strategies.

The President said at first when he introduced the programme, it was " a big battle because subsidies are taboo in international circles." However, he went ahead and gave vulnerable farmers seed and fertiliser at reduced prices.

He said the programme is bearing fruits because for the second year running, the country has registered surpluses. He said his government has also created an internal market infrastructure for distribution and buying crops. Irrigation has also been intensified because the country’s rainfall pattern is unpredictable, he added.

"Malawi is not poor. We are poor by choice. We could get out of it," he emphasised.

Annan said agriculture is the mainstay of most African economies, pointing out that 70 per cent of the continent’s employment is on the farms.

The former UN chief asked African governments to put in place right policies that would benefit their people. —Malawi News Agency


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