News / Africa

UN Food Expert Asks Malawi to Reconsider Farm Subsidies

Traders selling maize at a market in Malawi's northern district of Karonga. Subsidized fertilizer has helped boost production in recent years. (VOA / T. Kumwenda)
Traders selling maize at a market in Malawi's northern district of Karonga. Subsidized fertilizer has helped boost production in recent years. (VOA / T. Kumwenda)
Lameck Masina

In Malawi,  the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food has asked the government to reassess its agriculture priorities and to increase support for many underfunded programs.
 
The call from Olivier De Schutter came at the end of his recent eleven day trip to the country to assess food availability.

He said Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program, or FISP, is not working as planned.
The government effort, introduced eight years ago,  enables the poor farmers to buy farm inputs including fertilizers at reduced prices.  The country has been registering surplus maize ever since.

But De Shutter said the problem is that it’s draining a lot of funds that could be used to develop other agricultural programs.

“FISP has been quite vital since it was introduced in 2005-2006," he said, "but like other programs it has at the same time many defects. And I propose number of ways in which FISP has to be improved. Other programs could be better financed if FISP is gradually reduced.”

Malawi’s support for fertilizer and other farm inputs takes up more over half of Malawi's agricultural budget, which De Schutter said crowds out other priorities such as agriculture extension services.

“There are other ways to build the fertility of the soils.," he said. "There is need to move from input intensive to nourish intensive agriculture development. We need to compliment the Green Revolution introduced with FISP to Brown Revolution for the fertility of the soil and Blue Revolution for better water harvesting and irrigation techniques”.

Billy Mayaya, the chairperson of National Right to Food Network in Malawi, agrees with De Schutter on the need to find an exit strategy to FISP.

“There are a lot of concerns on issues of food in the country particularly the implementation of FISP," he said. "While it is a good program at the same time, there are concerns over the expense of the program, and I think there is the need for the government to start considering an exit strategy.”

Despite the surpluses produce by the program, Malawi has still had to import maize.  Some government officials blame leaking silos that allowed stored food to rot.  The Consumers Association of Malawi has asked the government to form a commission of inquiry to look into the matter. 

Supporters of FISP say those shortages are another reason for keeping the program.
Sara Tione, Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson, said the benefits of the program are greater than its shortcomings.

“We know that it is draining resources," she said.  "But we cannot talk of exit strategies until Malawians are self-sufficient and food secure. If today we leave out people accessing the fertilizer are we going to ensure food self-sufficiency that way?”

That view was also voiced by Malawi President Joyce Banda at a recent political rally.  She said the subsidy on farm inputs will not be ended until the country can feed itself.  At this point, she said,  there’s still too many farmers who can not afford to buy fertilizers.  


Listen to report on maize subsidies in Malawi.
Listen to report on maize subsidies in Malawi. i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More