News / Africa

New SADC Chair Banda Emphasizes Agriculture

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, right, welcomes Malawian counterpart Joyce Banda upon her arrival at Harare International Airport, April 23, 2013.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, right, welcomes Malawian counterpart Joyce Banda upon her arrival at Harare International Airport, April 23, 2013.
Lameck Masina
— The newly appointed chairperson for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Malawi President Joyce Banda, has called upon fellow leaders to champion agricultural development and agro-industries production as a means to promote regional integration.
 
An enthusiastic welcome greeted Banda's appearance during the Southern African leaders annual summit, which started on Saturday with an endorsement of the disputed elections in Zimbabwe that extended President Robert Mugabe's 33-year rule by another five years.
 
Choosing to focus on agricultural investment's key role in ending regional poverty, she said that although agriculture is a key to development, countries must add value to their products.
 
“In much of our region, agriculture is the largest employer and biggest generator of foreign exchange. Stimulating this sector would transform the livelihoods of our people and provide the foundation for the future development of our nations," she said. "We need to work harder to help our smallholder and commercial farmers to build, grow and sustain their businesses, to feed ourselves and access new markets beyond our region."
 
With tobacco representing one of the major cash crops in the region, Malawi's leader expressed concern about the tobacco anti-smoking lobby being championed by the World Health Organization.
 
“Malawi would like to voice serious concern over the legislation that is being enacted globally for the removal of tobacco additives and flavorings," she said, adding that the lobby has "an adverse and dire impact" on tobacco farms both small and large.
 
Seventy percent of Malawi's foreign exchange income comes from tobacco sales.
 
Banda also called on regional leaders to improve maternal health, noting that Malawi has made progress in this area, which is Millennium Development Goal Number five. Statistics show that Malawi has reduced its maternal death rate by more than half in the past three years.
 
Some in the audience thought the SADC leader focused too much on agriculture in her speech.
 
"It’s a missed opportunity because most people expected her to talk about issues of climate change," said Gift Manyozo, a social commentator from Zambia. "You cannot talk about agriculture these days without mentioning how you are going to avert climate change. There are quite a number of issues — like tourism, mining as one of the booming industries — so she was supposed to at least make a clear mention of these ones knowing fully that it’s no longer agriculture which drives the economies in the SADC region."
 
Malawi’s Minister of Mining, John Bande, disagreed, saying his government prioritizes issues affecting the mining industry.
 
“I think on the point of mining, we will capitalize on what the current president as an SADC chair has taken," he said. "For instance, she is talking about the regional integration and what we think is that what we have can be sold in other countries as far as mining is concerned. For example, we have very good coal that stretches from Moatiz in Mozambique into Malawi, coal being a major component in smelting and powering of manufacturing plants."
 
By the end of the two-day SADC heads of state session, leaders are expected to endorse the Southern African Development Community's master plan for infrastructure development.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid