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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs