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Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Malawi President addresses food crisis at Tokyo International Conference on African Development

President Bingu wa Mutharika has asked 40 world
leaders attending an international African development conference in
Japan to follow Malawi 's agricultural input subsidy program to combat
escalating food prices and scarcity of food.

Giving a key note address Thursday afternoon, entitled 'Asia-Africa
cooperation in the new global system' during the fourth Tokyo
International Conference on African Development (TICAD 1V) in Yokohama
City, Japan, Mutharika said the recent rise in food prices and the
scarcity of food requires the meeting of world leaders to have
consensus on how to deal with these problems.

"I believe that at the Asia-Africa cooperation level, we can respond to
this global food crisis in a number of ways…a new agricultural input
subsidy program should be supported to enable smallholder farmers in
Asia and Africa to access at affordable costs, fertiliser, pesticides,
herbicides, agricultural implements and tractors, improved seed
varieties and marketing for their produce," said Mutharika.

Government claimed last year that Malawi had 3.5 million tonnes surplus
food and sold some of the maize to Zimbabwe through private traders.

However, the exportation of maize, Malawi's staple food, has been put
on hold after noting that there is a food shortage in some parts of the

Mutharika also said more powerful countries must explore ways of
assisting Asian and African countries with modern science and
technology in agriculture and irrigation to increase production.

"More financing should be channeled into new agricultural research
programs, for instance in seed multiplication and production of drought
resistant crops to improve agricultural productivity and hence, food
availability," he said.

The President also said governments in Asia and Africa should find ways
of increasing investments in agriculture, irrigation and food security,
saying this might be done through budgetary allocations, donor support
and private sector investment.

"In Malawi, we have tried some of the proposals I am making and for the
past three years, we have had substantial food surplus over and above
our annual food requirements. Until a few years ago, it was always
assumed that Malawians could not produce enough food to feed ourselves
and would, therefore, always be condemned to starvation".

On Africa and Asia relationship, Mutharika said other areas of possible
Asia-Africa cooperation in addition to agriculture and food security
can be in energy supply and generation, irrigation and water
management, integrated rural development, transport infrastructure
development and the prevention and management of HIV and AIDS and
nutrition disorders.

He also said there was great potential for cooperation in the fields of health, education and tourism development.

Mutharika also applauded the One Village One Product scheme.

"This programme is doing wonders in Malawi in addressing poverty
reduction of the rural communities. This could be another area of
Asia-Africa cooperation spearheaded by Japan ," said Mutharika


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