President of Economic Association of Malawi (ECAMA) Henry Kachaje, has blamed politicians for turning the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) into a political tool.
Kachaje was speaking Wednesday in Lilongwe during a panel dialogue on hunger which Civil Society Agricultural Network (Cisanet) organised in conjunction with State of the Union (SOTU).
The economist Kachaje said it is “unfortunate” that up to now politicians view FISP as a campaign tool.
He also pointed out that Malawi has never had surplus food for the past years at household level but it had managed to produce surplus maize.
“Malawi has had surplus maize not food because food cannot be taken alone as one need to have other things as well,” said Kachaje.
Kachaje has since urged Malawians to diversify food consumption by incorporating other crops as food as well.
“People limit food as Nsima only; this mindset needs to be changed. Other people like in eastern Africa have turned Bananas as their major food as well, this is important,” said Kachaje.
During the dialogue, outspoken Member of Parliament, Kamlepo Kalua blamed government for not having a policy on FISP.
Kalua said it was difficult for FISP to tick and yet there is no policy to direct its movement.
Speaking recently at the opening of the Economic Association of Malawi (Ecama) Annual Lakeshore Conference in Mangochi, renowned Malawian banker, Thom Mpinganjira, observed that FISP is unsustainable and there is urgent need for Malawi to come up with an exit plan for the programme.
The Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has also criticised the citizenry’s huge appetite for freebies like subsidies on fertiliser.
CfSC in its statement on latest Basic Needs Basket, said “economic independence should begin at household level by recognizing that times have changed, the government’s purse keeps shrinking such that it can no longer afford subsidies for all.”
It said although the state of the country’s economy has been affected by a nexus of factors like the Cashgate, excessive government expenditure, the January devastating floods and withholding of aid by donors, there is need to scrutinise local systems and structures, attitudes, values and beliefs towards self-reliance, work and how all these have reinforced the present situation.
Cisanet Board chair Rex Chapota said for Malawi to achieve food sufficiency there is needs to embrace use of farming equipment than a hoe.
“I have always been saying this that we cannot progress with the use of hoe as our major farming tool, I want to see a hoe at a museum one day,” said Chapota.
Chapota said the issues of food surplus are true at national levels while food production on household level has been below 50 percent in Malawi.
“That is why people have already started eating mangoes as their main food in some parts of the country,” said Chapota.
Another panellist Felix Jumbe, who is parliamentary committee chair on agriculture, said it is unfortunate that Malawi has chosen to be poor.
“Malawi is happy to be poor. We had Admarc system during Kamuzu but now it’s dead. We had floods but where is that water which swept our crops and animals. That water is in the ocean because we can preserve it, we don’t do irrigation apart from irrigation on paper,” said Jumbe.
SOTU has been engaging various stakeholders in order to assist in shaping direction of this country on various policies and charters.
The dialogue on Wednesday was also live on Zodiak Radio.
Representing the donors, Irish Aid official, Aidan Fitzpatrick, said donors are ready to assist Malawi to achieve food security but added that Malawians should start themselves to show interest.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :