President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has said the desire of his administration is to achieve food security that promotes self-reliance in addition to upholding human dignity.
Chakwera made the sentiments when he launched the 2023 Affordable Input Programme (AIP) at Kavidebwere Full Primary School in Kasungu.
He observed that the past subsidy programmes did not help households to achieve food security that protects the country’s national sovereignty let alone building people’s capacity for economic prosperity.
“It has been correctly said that giving citizens the ability to grow their own food is as good as giving them the ability to print their own money. This is why within the first year of being in office, I announced that one of the top three priorities of my administration is the achievement of food security for every household in Malawi,” he said.
As much as 1.5 million farming households have been earmarked to benefit from this year’s programme. The figure is one million less than the programme targeted last year.
President Chakwera stressed that he does not want Malawians to be nourished and have their health sustained physically using food that is “secured through begging and charity”.
“That is not the kind of food security we want. What we want to achieve is food security that promotes self-reliance. What we want to achieve is food security that upholds human dignity. What we want to achieve is food security that protects our national sovereignty. What we want to achieve is food security that builds our people’s capacity for economic prosperity,” he explained.
He said his administration is looking for ways to improve the programme’s delivery to ensure it delivers the much-desired results.
Chakwera stated that despite facing distribution challenges, AIP has achieved food security for more Malawians than any programme like it in the past.
“Even in the face of multiple challenges that have befallen us as a nation in the past three years, the AIP has remained one of the strongest safety nets catching millions of Malawians in economic freefall from the devastating effects of pandemics like Covid, outbreaks like cholera, and climate impacts like droughts and cyclones Ana, Gombe, and Freddy.
“So I am happy to yet again roll out the Affordable Inputs Programme to empower millions of Malawians to grow their own food. In fact, when the cost of importing fertilizer from abroad increased four or five times as a result of supply chain constraints caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine, there were some in this country who said that I should abandon the AIP because it had become too expensive,” he said.
“But I have never once considered this an option, because even though it is true that bringing fertilizer from abroad is so much more expensive now than it was three years ago, it is not as expensive as the starvation of an entire nation. It is not surprising to me that the people who say that the AIP should be abandoned all have one thing in common: they all have income security and can afford to buy food. But in this country the number of people that have income security and can afford to buy their own food is less than 5%. The majority of Malawians can only have food security from growing enough food of their own from their own land to feed themselves and their children throughout the year. So what those Malawians need is support to maximize the yields from their own land, and that is whom the AIP is for,” he added.
At the same function, President Chakwera encouraged farming cooperatives to venture into for business is wheat production.
He said his administration partnered with Pyxus to produce the first wheat mega farm in Malawi to demonstrate that this is a viable cash crop.