By Feston Malekezo
Mutharika spoke Wednesday at the opening of the National Agriculture Fair at Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre, held under the theme ‘Access to Finance, Value Addition and Markets: Key to Agri-based Industrialisation’.
Mutharika compared Malawi to China, which has developed tremendously owing it to unity among stakeholders in development.
“The People of China are so united; civil society organisations (CSOs), the government and the private sector are very united. And you must remember that, in 1979, Malawi’s economy was better off than China’s. The problem here in Malawi is that we politicise everything and this is a setback to the economy,” he said.
In recent times, the Mutharika administration has been criticised on the same by some CSOs, which have since vowed to hold mass demonstrations on September 21 so as to force the government to improve service delivery in institutions such as Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).
It is alleged that fuel meant for generators amounting to over four million litres was stolen at Escom.
Mutharika further said the government would continue with the Farm Input Subsidy Programme, saying the number of beneficiaries would rise this year.
On industrialisation, Mutharika said he would open more factories in a bid to create jobs for Malawians.
“We will open factories so as to make sure we do not export jobs. For instance, here in Blantyre, we will open a leather manufacturing company. When you slaughter your goats, pigs or cattle, you should be able to sell the skin to the company for leather production,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, said the government is aware that some people would be food- insecure during the 2018/19 lean period.
Mwanamvekha said the government has enough stocks of maize for distribution to the needy.
“Prolonged dry spells and the fall army worm have contributed heavily to the number of people who will be food-insecure. But the government has managed to keep enough maize and we will begin distribution of the relief food by next week.
“Let me also take this opportunity to warn those who are holding on to their maize, thinking that prices will go up. They are wrong because the government we will make sure that maize prices remain stable,” he said.
Mwanamvekha also said all Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation depots would open by Monday so that people can buy maize.
A Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee report indicates a 24.5 percent decrease in production of the country’s staple food, maize, during the 2017/18 growing season.
The report says the drop will render 3.3 million people destitute, requiring 138, 488 tonnes of food aid.