Malawi has received cash boost of K473 million from Ireland on its agricultural subsidy programme as its contribution to ensuring food security in Malawi.
President Bingu wa Mutharika introduced the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in 2005 to improve national food security and lift the productivity of smallholder farmers after several years of drought brought poor harvests.
But in the midst of a crippling economic crisis, the scheme has pruned with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security announcing that only 1.4 million farmers are eligible to receive vouchers for the 2011/12 season, and only 140,000 metric tons of fertilizer have been purchased for distribution compared to the 170,000 tons it bought last year.
Ireland’s new Ambassador to Malawi, Liz Higgins said the money injected will ” improve the standard of living of the Malawian people.”
Ambassador Higgins said after preseting her Letters of credence to President
Mutharika that increased legume production by Malawian farmers would help improve productivity and soil fertility, as well as enhancing family nutrition.
She pointed out that by building a strong seed industry, the programme is facilitating diversification of Malawian agricultural produce.
“Our support of the FISP aims to ensure that Malawian households are better nourished, more food secure and less vulnerable to poverty,” she said.
“The FISP is hugely important to support economic development in Malawi and to protect the very poorest Malawians, and Ireland is committed to supporting the Government of Malawi to strengthen agricultural production of nutritious food,” she said.
According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), other international donors have also pledged their financial and technical support to the FISP for 2011/12.