Bishops of the influential Catholic Church in the country have followed up the issue raised by Rumphi East Member of Parliament (MP) Kamlepo Kalua on the status of tractors bought using a loan from India in 2012.
Kalua asked Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza in parliament to explain the status of tractors.
In 2012, Malawi obtained a $50 million (K30 billion) loan from India and bought 177 tractors, 144 maize shellers, seed cum and fertiliser application drilling machines in a drive to mechanise farming in the country.
Kalua wondered why government sold the tractors and shellers to “senior government officials” when they were meant for smallholder farmers to improve farming technologies.
In a pastoral letter the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) released Sunday under the theme ‘Mercy of God as a Path of Hope’, read out in Catholic Churches nationwide, the bishops have also followed up on the matter.
The bishops said they are “concerned “about the conflicting reports regarding the whereabouts of the farm tractors and corn-Sheller machines which the Government purchased to improve agricultural production.
“We, therefore, call upon the government to investigate this matter. We believe that it will be an act of injustice to subject poor Malawians to the repayment of the loan yet they have not benefitted from the tractors and corn-Sheller machines,” reads the pastoral statement.
In the pastoral letter in which they have talked tough against the prevailing socio-political and economic issues facing the country, the Bishops also have called for long-term measures to be put in place to transform Malawi into a food secure nation.
“It is our considered view that Malawi is blessed with enough natural resources which if properly utilized the problem of persistent hunger will be an issue of the past. The good waters and plenty of fertile land lying idle are assets either underutilized or not used at all,” they stated.
The Catholic Church has also asked government to consider an exit strategy for Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) which many stakeholders have argued it was becoming unsustainable due to its cost on the budget, among others.
“We appeal to the government to reform it or develop an exit strategy. Whatever reforms the Government decides to undertake, they must promote the interests of poor people,” said the bishops.
Fisp reforms are part of donor conditions for aid resumption.
To become a hunger free nation, the bishops argued, government should seriously consider investment in large scale commercialized irrigation farming infrastructure.
“This will create an opportunity for many Malawians to grow crops at least twice a year. This we believe is the only way of making food readily accessible and cheap,” said the statement.
The church also challenged experts in the fields of agriculture and irrigation to design and promote policies and programmes that can make Malawi a hunger free nation.
“We want to point out that Government’s every policy and action should be measured on the basis of whether it promotes human life, enhances human dignity, particularly for the poor and the vulnerable. That will be a clear demonstration of the Government’s commitment to opt for the poor and the vulnerable,” reads the statement.
Signatories of the letter are ECM chairperson and Archbishop of Blantyre Archdiocese Thomas Msusa, ECM vice-chairperson Bishop Martin Mtumbuka (Karonga Diocese), Archbishop Tarsizio Ziyaye (Archbishop of Lilongwe), Bishop Peter Musikuwa (Chikwawa Diocese), Bishop Emmanuel Kanyama (Dedza Diocese), Bishop Montfort Stima (Mangochi Diocese), Bishop George Tambala (Zomba Diocese) and Monsignor Michael Muwowo (Mzuzu Diocese).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :