Matter of fact: Malawi VP Chilima’s  Israel tour follow-up  on Joyce Banda initiative

Malawi’s Vice President, Saulos Chilima flew out to Israel on Sunday reportedly to attend a graduation ceremony of 29 graduate apprentices from Bunda and Natural Resources Colleges (NRC), among other engagements.

The apprentices went to Israel in 2013 under the auspices of the Presidential initiative on Hunger Reduction during the Joyce Banda administration to study high value horticulture and irrigation at the Agro-Studies Division of Tel Aviv University.

The Malawi/Israel co-operation on irrigation technologies is a former President Joyce Banda initiative after negotiating with the Israeli government 2012 in order to enhance Malawi agriculture by facilitating two crops per year initiative.

Banda:  Her brainchild to tap on Israel support

Banda: Her brainchild to tap on Israel support

Chilima:  In israel

Chilima: In israel

An Israeli Agriculture Consultant, Samuel Katz, visited Malawi thereafter to discuss with Malawian technical experts in Agriculture and Irrigation on the viability of the initiative.

The technical consultant was attached to the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction (PIPaH) for 12 months. Several capacity building training workshops took place for agriculture extension workers and a centre for excellence was created at NRC where a model demonstration plot with drip irrigation was developed.

The 15 demonstration sites elsewhere were also developed and are being managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development.

The inauguration ceremony for the advanced agro-technology for sustainable development between Malawi and Israel took place at the Natural Resources College on April 24, 2014. It was presided over by the then President Banda and the Israeli Ambassador to Malawi, Mr. Gil Haskel.

In her remarks, President Joyce Banda had noted that the agricultural sector accounts for about 36 percent of Malawi’s GDP; 87 percent total employment; supplies more than 65 percent of the raw material requirements for the manufacturing sector. Agriculture therefore, was central to government efforts to reduce poverty.

She had said diversification into other crops other than just the staple, maize, and tobacco was key for Malawi’s agricultural success, hence her administration touted the ‘two crop farming’ initiative as a tool to increase agricultural production and food security for Malawians. These cumulative factors would therefore increase exports and have a positive impact on poverty reduction.

It was envisaged the advanced agro-technology for sustainable development project between Malawi and Israel would go a long way to positively shape Malawi’s agriculture sector and the economy.

The DPP administration must be hailed for sustaining the initiative that was initiated by the former Joyce Banda administration. The DPP has to continue to learn to humble itself and continue to follow good economic and other policies that were initiated by previous administrations, including those under Bakili Muluzi, as it is the only panacea to free this country from the prevailing economic pang. The DPP administration must learn to acknowledge positive contributions by their predecessors.

According to Press Statement issued by the Office of the Vice President before Chilima’s departure, “His Excellency President Peter Mutharika has assigned the Vice President to lead a delegation of local Water and Agriculture experts to Israel on a fact finding mission on how irrigation can be developed and fully utilized in Malawi.”

VP’s Press Officer, Pilirani Phiri, is quoted in media as having said the trip will greatly assist in refining of the Green Belt Initiative so that it can deliver long term sustainable irrigation projects that can attract foreign investors into the country.

The Malawi/Israel co-operation on irrigation technology is an initiative that came about under Joyce Banda’s very own Presidential initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction. However, nowhere in the said VP office Press Statement is it acknowledged that this is a brainchild of DPP predecessors. Surely, the previous government must prominently feature in this equation.

The current administration must accept that the previous administration introduced some of the best economic policies and initiatives, including revamping the agriculture sector for Malawi to truly become a predominantly exporting country and not a predominantly importing one.

There are other equally viable initiatives that the Joyce Banda administration pursued that the DPP government would wish to maintain or emulate from. The Mudzi Transformation Trust and A Cow a Family are such other important initiatives that would have changed the lives of the ordinary Malawians in the villages were they adopted by this administration.

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