Malawi’s president has
been honored for his achievements in food security. The Food, Agriculture and
Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) has given President Bingu
wa Mutharika the first Food Policy Leadership Award for transforming the
country from food importer to food exporter. The network coordinates food and
agriculture policy in 12 southern African countries. Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Lameck
Masina in Blantyre, Malawi, reports.
The head of the
network’s board of directors, Sindiso Ngwenya, said the success of President
Mutharika’s food security policies speaks for itself. He said the subsidies
program for fertilizers and seeds has enabled the country to feed not only itself, but also its neighbors. Mr. Mutharika also
serves as Malawi’s minister of agriculture and food security. In an address to
the nation, he said the award was not for himself alone but for all the people
“I am saying this
because you can have a bag of fertilizer but on its own can not grow maize. You
can have good rains; if the rains can come and go there will not be maize if
the people don’t stand up and work hard. And I like to believe that Malawians,
you all worked very hard to make sure that we produce what we have. So I am
proud to lead the nation of achievers,” he said.
Mutharika’s efforts have not always enjoyed wide support. The United States and
Britain strongly opposed the program. The two countries had refused to fund it. It was created to mitigate one of the worst droughts in a decade
– a disaster that left nearly half of the population without food. But Mr.
Mutharika insisted, saying the government used its own money for the effort.
program led to a drop in the price of fertilizers from around US$27 for a 50kg
bag to about $7. As a
result, maize production more than doubled 2005 to 2006 – and rose sharply
again in 2007, leading to a surplus of more than one million metric tons.
harvest also benefited neighboring countries. Malawi officially exported 40,000
metric tons of maize to Zimbabwe by the end of last December. It also donated
five thousand metric tons of maize each to Lesotho and Swaziland.
says he has confidence in the program: “I would like to
assure you that a program of subsidy and food security will continue. Malawi
will go from strength to strength in providing food for all at affordable
In July he announced a
20 percent reduction in the cost of fertilizers.
cite other reasons for the success in boosting agriculture.
Mac Leans Makwinja is the crop specialist in
the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
He says, “Farmers have realized the importance of adopting modern
farming techniques. For example, we are advocating the one-one-planting of
maize which most farmers have discovered that it is very good method of
method allows farmers to grow one seed per hole instead of three seeds, which
is the standard. This, he says eliminates competition for nutrients among the
also says the ministry has been encouraging farmers to use manure and to plant
improved maize varieties that yield more than the local ones.
The annual Food Policy
Leadership award was established earlier this year. It has no cash prizes but
includes, among other things, a trophy, a signed certificate and some prizes
donated by FANRPAN partners.