International NGOs have singled out Malawi among the 15 member SADC countries as the only country that has fulfilled commitments contained in the Maputo declaration that require countries to allocate at least 10 per cent of their national budget towards agriculture and rural development.
“Of the above budget, an estimated half is allocated towards purchasing inputs mainly fertilisers and seeds,” noted Dr Richard Kamidza in his policy brief titled ‘SADC countries food security policy frameworks and agricultural investment plan’
According to a joint statement by the Economic Justice Network, Oxfam and the Southern Africa Food and Climate Justice Campaign the lack of political will has had negative effects on agriculture related spending in the other 14 countries.
“This had resulted in limited opportunities for small holder farmers and worsening food insecurity levels for households. Similarly, current policies and strategies in place are not able to effectively address the needs of small scale farmers,” they said.
The NGOs then called upon the SADC Heads of State and Governments to honour and act on their commitments with regards to agriculture and food security as outlined in the 2003 African Union Assembly Maputo declaration.
While Malawi receives plaudits for its flagship programme, the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (FISP), the reality on the ground is another picture.
Close to 3 million of its citizens stare starvation in the face and the cash strapped Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government needs close to MK20 billion for humanitarian assistance.
SADC’s regional maize balance sheet as updated on 24th July 2015 indicated that Malawi has a deficit 641,000 metric tonnes. And in the region South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia have a combined surplus of 2 million metric tonnes.
SADC’s Director, Food Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Margaret Nyirenda told the media in Gaborone, Botswana that floods and prolonged dry spells in Malawi have led to an unsatisfactory food security situation in the 2014/15 farming season.
“The SADC region is cognizant of the increased number of vulnerable people who require both food and other humanitarian assistance. The region keeps taking necessary measures to provide food and non-food relief supplies to the 27.41 million vulnerable people and support them to recover from the disasters,” Nyirenda said.
- Collins Mtika is reporting for Nyasa Times at SADC summit in Gaberone, Botswana.