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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid