JB to resume Malawi crop inspection tours: Activists caution on political abuse

President Joyce Banda will from Monday re-launch crop inspection tours which used to be the country’s first head of state Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda’s trade mark in his 31-year reign.

According to a statement issued by State House made available to Nyasa Times, President  Banda will  on Monday undertake the crop inspection and agriculture diversification project tour in the areas of T/A Kapeni and Makata, respectively.

But members of the civil society have warned that although the crop inspection tours are vital in encouraging agriculture, Banda should be cautious and not take advantage of the tours to promote her Peoples Party (PP) using government resources.

State House Press officer, Tusekele Mwanyongo, said in the statement that after inspecting the crops, President Banda will later in the afternoon hold a rally at Mudi primary school ground.

President Banda: Crop inspection
President Banda: Crop inspection

“At Undani village T/A Kapeni the President will inspect groundnuts and sweet potatoes under the Presidential initiative on legumes.

“At Chanika village T/A Makata, she will inspect a farm using inorganic fertilizer under Farm Input subsidy programme and goat production under presidential initiative on small stock,” State House statement said.

Finance Minister Ken Lipenga could not comment when asked if crop inspection tour was budgeted for.

Kamuzu launched the crop inspection tours as a means of encouraging farmers and assess the crop situation in the country.

But after sometime Kamuzu and his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) started using the tours as a political platform and also as a means of fundraising for the party through contribution in form of presents given to  the former leader wherever he went.

Late president Bingu wa Mutharika adopted the crop inspection tours in his first term but later aborted it.

Executive director of Malawi Watch, Billy Banda said although the crop inspection tours are necessary as they inspire the farmers,  President Banda should strive to draw a line between his party and government to avoid using government resources in the promotion of PP.

The human rights campaigner also observed that the cost of these tours are exorbitant and tend to drain government resources.

Institute for Policy Interaction Executive Director Rafik Hajaj said  crop inspection tours is “job for the minister of agriculture.”

President Banda has  repeatedly said about two million Malawians are facing hunger.

Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) projected that 1.9 million Malawians were facing hunger.

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