President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has challenged organizers of the ceaseless protests, stating that his administration will not reward them for mobilizing Malawians to the streets on frivolous grounds.
Chakwera expressed these sentiments in Ntchisi on Thursday while presiding over the launch of the second phase of the Agricultural Commercialization (AGCOM) Project.
Chakwera acknowledged the existence of “some people in this country who demand government money for free, or believe we should provide them with money simply because they belong to a political party, make a lot of noise, or to prevent them from organizing demonstrations”.
Evidently, the President’s comments were in response to the recent emergence of numerous civil society organizations (CSOs) that identify themselves as human rights organizations, despite their failure to consult the poor Malawians they claim to represent.
The President emphasized that the country cannot afford to freely distribute money to individuals with insatiable consumption habits.
“We find ourselves in a very critical situation where we must prioritize funding those who are willing to use the limited financial resources to create value, build infrastructure, and generate wealth that will benefit the country.
Thus, the $295 million secured for the AGCOM 2 Programme will be allocated to those who are determined to utilize the land they have been blessed with to produce valuable goods, create employment opportunities, and secure a prosperous future,” stated Chakwera.
Regarding the day’s agenda, President Chakwera assured that his administration remains committed to providing financial and technical support to farmers interested in commercializing the agricultural industry.
He mentioned that with the financial support received from international partners such as the World Bank, Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, and the Multi-Donor Trust Fund, his government is focused on advancing the vision of mass production in value chains for export.
Furthermore, Chakwera explained that in addition to commercializing smallholder farms for exports, AGCOM 2 will help combat the hunger crisis affecting certain parts of the country by boosting food production.
“No country is coming here to feed us, so we must work the land to cultivate the food necessary to sustain ourselves. As we enter December, it is important that we take a moment to pray for favorable rains that will not render our hard work in the fields futile.
Even in cases where the rains are insufficient, the AGCOM 2 programme allows us to invest in irrigation infrastructure, utilizing the abundant water resources in Malawi.
That is why we have already designated over 4000 hectares for irrigation, as we cannot let valuable land lay idle while the rest of the world is actively searching for countries like ours with the land and freshwater to produce and sell food,” remarked Chakwera.
Chakwera assured farmers that there is a steady market for their produce, citing his recent visit to Egypt where President El-Sisi expressed interest in purchasing more food from Malawi.
“And they want us to grow it and sell it to them. Thus, we have already identified markets for our food production. What remains is not only for us to put in the work, but also to get organized. That is why we are restructuring all smallholder farmers into cooperatives or farming clubs, enabling us to regulate and maintain the quality and quantity of our produce to meet the standards demanded by countries interested in buying from us. So, if you own a small plot of land and are not yet a member of a cooperative, it is crucial that you join one now,” urged Chakwera.
He advised farmers to form groups, as farming collectively offers numerous advantages, such as increased productivity of land and labor.
Additionally, cooperatives facilitate mechanization of farming and empower farmers to negotiate better prices for their produce.
“This also allows us to have ownership and a share in the profits of the country when our produce is exported. I commend all the smallholder farmers who contributed $5 million to co-finance projects in AGCOM 1, and I encourage more Malawians to take ownership of their agricultural wealth in AGCOM 2.”
“Therefore, I express my gratitude to the World Bank and all our partners for believing in our ability to feed ourselves and the rest of the world. I also extend my thanks to the World Bank, the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Norway, who have representatives present, for the support they provided in securing financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
I assure you all that we will utilize the support effectively. Furthermore, in response to Malawi’s eligibility for IMF support, the World Bank has committed over 30 billion kwacha to aid us in purchasing maize for distribution in Ntchisi and other districts facing the imminent threat of hunger.
With your continuous support through AGCOM and other projects, there is no challenge Malawi cannot overcome or achievement it cannot attain,” assured President Chakwera.