President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has dared organizers of the endless demonstrations, vowing that his administration will not reward them for mobilizing Malawians to the streets on frivolous reasons.
Chakwera made the sentiments in Ntchisis on Thursday when he presided over the launch of the second phase of the Agricultural Commercialization (AGCOM) Project.
Chakwera said he was aware that there are “some people in this country who want the government to give them money for free, or who want us to give them money just because they belong to a party, or to give them money just because they know how to make noise, or to give them money just to keep them from doing demonstrations”.
Apparently, the President was reacting to the sudden birth of myriad civil society organizations (CSOs) trading under the name of human rights organizations despite the fact that they never consult poor Malawians whom they claim to represent.
The President said the country does not have the luxury of throwing money at people whose appetites for consumption are never satisfied.
“We are in a very serious situation in which we must prioritize funding those who want to use the little money we have to grow something, to build something, and to produce something of value that will generate even more money for the country. So the 295 million dollars we have secured for this AGCOM 2 Programme is for those who want to work the land God gave them to produce something of value, something that creates wealth, something that creates jobs, something that creates a new and prosperous future,” said Chakwera.
Turning to the agenda of the day, President Chkwera said his administration remains committed to providing financial and technical support to farmers who want to commercialize the industry.
He said with financial support from international partners such as the World Bank, Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme and the Multi-Donor Trust Fund, his government is geared to take his vision of mass production of value chains for exports to the next level.
He said in addition to commercialising smallholder farms to produce exports, AGCOM 2 will also help us produce the food necessary to curb the hunger situation that is threatening some parts of the country.
“No country is coming here to feed us, so we must work the ground to grow the food necessary to feed ourselves. As it is, at the start of December, it will be good for us as a nation to take a moment to pray that God gives us good rains so that our work in the fields do not go to waste. However, even where the rains do not do well, this AGCOM 2 programme gives us the chance to invest in irrigation infrastructure so that when there is no water from the sky, we can use the water that Malawi is already blessed with on the ground. That is why we have already identified over 4000 hectares for irrigation because we can no longer allow so much of our land to be sitting idle when the whole world is desperate to find countries like ours that have the land and fresh water to grow food and sell it to them,” said Chakwera.as
He assured the farmers that there is steady market for their produce, citing Egypt where he returne two days ago, saying President El-Sisi expressed interest to buy more food from Malawi.
“And they want us to grow it and sell it to them. So we have already identified markets for our food production. What is left now is not only for us to do the work, but for us to get organized. That is why we have been reorganizing all smallholder farmers in the country into cooperatives or farming clubs so that we can control and sustain the quantity and quality of the food we produce to meet the standards of the countries that want to buy from us. So if you own a small piece of land and are not yet in a cooperative, you need to join one now,” said Chakwera.
He advised farmers to form groups, saying farming as groups, instead of as individual households, has many advantages, as it enables them to increase the productivity of their land and labour.
Additionally, cooperatives also enable farmers to mechanize their farming in addition to negotiating for better prices for our produce.
“It also enables us to have ownership and a stake in the profits the country makes when the produce is exported, which is why I must commend all the smallholder farmers who managed to contribute 5 million dollars to co-finance projects in AGCOM 1, and I want to see more Malawians taking ownership of their agricultural wealth in this AGCOM 2.
“So, I say thank you to the World Bank and all our partners for believing in us to feed ourselves and the world. I also want to thank the World Bank, the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Norway, whose representatives are here with us, for the support they gave us to ensure that secured financial support from the International Monetary Fund yesterday. I want to assure you all that we will put the support you have given us to good use. I am also grateful that in response to Malawi qualifying for the IMF support, the World Bank has committed over 30 billion kwacha to help us buy maize for distribution to the people of Ntchisi and other districts where there is a looming threat of hunger. With your continued support through AGCOM and other projects, there is nothing Malawi will not overcome or achieve,” said President Chakwera.