Govt delivers food situation report in Parliament

Written by  Yamikani Simutowe

The 2017/18 mid-year budget review started Monday afternoon at Parliament Building in Lilongwe with government assuring the House that country has sufficient maize.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha Agriculture Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha
06
February


Government, through the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, who made a ministerial statement on food situation following prolonged dry spells and fall army worms that have hit some parts of the country, also outlined immediate and short term interventions to deal with the two factors.


While conceding that the challenges have largely affected 18 districts, Mwanamvekha said government will restrict exports of maize and maize products and continue releasing humanitarian maize from the strategic maize reserves to support families affected by the dry spells and fall army worms.


He further said government will buy additional maize for the strategic maize reserves and invest in winter irrigated farming by providing farm inputs like fertilizer and planting material.


He then echoed President Mutharika's sentiments that no one will die of hunger in the country.


"In 2015 and 2016, when the country experienced severe droughts and floods which resulted in less output, no one died of hunger because His Excellency the President made sure that the country had enough food for everyone throughout those years.


Furthermore, in 2017, when the country received good rains, the country produced a bumper harvest and filled up food reserves due to excellent policies and strategies President Mutharika's government is implementing such as the Farm Input Subsidy Programme," said Mwanamvekha.


He also hailed President Mutharika for banning the exportation of maize last year.


"As all of us can see, we are experiencing the worst forms of dry spells in living memory, and a fall armyworm outbreak, but the country has got enough maize and no one will die of hunger, thanks to the wise, dynamic, visionary and foresightedness of His Excellency the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika; he directed that out of the bumper harvest of last year, we should first fill up our food reserves before exporting any surpluses.


"At the time, his decision was strongly criticized and opposed by some people, others decided to make cheap politics out of such a matter of serious national importance.


"Some of them were even Honourable colleagues from this august House and the nation is a best judge on the quality and depth of their leadership.


“The President persevered and  endured all sorts of criticisms, insults, and ridicule as others went further thinking of holding demonstrations using this matter as one of the grounds. Today, the President has been vindicated," said Mwanamvekha.


Commentig on the ministerial statement, several Members of Parliament welcomed and hailed government's immediate and short term interventions and urged government to ensure availability of the commodity in all affected areas.


Prolonged dry spells and fall army worms have hit 18 districts namely Balaka, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe, Mwanza, Neno, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Dowa, Dedza, Kasungu, Ntcheu, Salima and some parts of Lilongwe.


This year's maize production will be reduced by over 283,000 metric tonnes, according to Mwanamvekha.

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