"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Malawi president seeks international backing for 'green belt'

BLANTYRE (AFP) — Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika said Thursday
he will seek international investment for his ambitious "green belt"
irrigation project to boost food production and combat hunger.

want the world to help in establishing the green belt through
investment for Malawi to have food all the time," Mutharika told
reporters before leaving for the UN General Assembly.

last month announced that his impoverished nation was to begin
irrigation farming using water from Lake Malawi and the country's
rivers to boost food production.

The green belt would be established along Lake Malawi, which straddles a third of the country.

gave no figures for the required investment, but in remarks broadcast
on state radio, he said international firms had expressed interest in
the project.

Despite the huge fresh-water supply from Lake
Malawi, Africa's third-largest, agricultural experts say only two
percent of land is irrigated and most farming is small scale and
dependent on rain.

Sixty percent of Malawi's 13 million citizens
live below the poverty line. The country met its food needs for the
first time in seven years in 2006 with a harvest of 2.2 million tonnes
of maize, the country's staple.

Famine threatened up to five
million people in 2005 following drought, forcing the Mutharika
administration to spend more than 100 million dollars (71.7 million
euros) to import over 400,000 tonnes of food.

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