The President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, has been honoured by the
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for his efforts
in achieving food security and in transforming the economy of his
nation, among the poorest in Africa.
Director-General Jacques Diouf presented President wa Mutharika with
the Agricola Medal – the agency’s highest award – yesterday during a
ceremony in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe.
Mr. Diouf noted that in 2005, thanks in a large part to the adoption of
an Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme piloted by the Government of
President wa Mutharika, Malawi was able to restore national food
security by increasing access to fertilizers and improved seeds by poor
farmers and other vulnerable population groups.
In addition, despite sharply rising food and energy prices earlier in
the year, and the negative impact of climate change, Malawi has been
able to contain food prices to the extent that economic growth for this
year is expected to be around 8 per cent.
Malawi was also one of the few countries to have surpassed the
agreement reached among ministers at the 2003 Maputo African heads of
State and government conference for a minimum budget allocation of 10
per cent for agriculture, by allocating as much as 16 per cent to the
sector, said the Director-General.
Agriculture is crucial to the population of 13.2 million in Malawi, a
largely rural and landlocked country in Southern Africa, where some 35
per cent of the population was undernourished in 2004.
Previous recipients of the Agricola Medal include Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, former French
president Jacques Chirac, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Pope John Paul
II, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, former Spanish prime minister
José María Aznar, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and
German ex-president Johannes Rau of Germany.