BY BLAIR MHONE
President Lazarus Chakwera has hailed the people of Chitipa as a shining light of how the country as a whole can use food and agricultural diversification to combat food insecurity in the long run.
The President was speaking during a development rally at Chitipa Airfield where multitudes welcomed him after conducting crop inspection in the northern border district.
The Malawi leader inspected crops in Ibanda Nowa Model Village, Yesasa Village under Lufita Extension Planning Area in the district.
Beginning his speech, Chakwera said he was happy with the warm welcome he was accorded by people in Chitipa this being the first time he has visited the district since his election into office in 2020.
He then encouraged farmers to take care of their crops at the same time assuring them that government will make sure every household has enough food.
On this he said he was impressed with what he saw during his inspections on how ordinary citizens in the district are diversifying their diet through different crops.
He, therefore, urged other districts to borrow a leaf if the country is to end food insecurity.
“Malawi meets a lot of problems, but Chitipa is one of the shining lights in terms of food diversification. The district has one of the lowest stunting cases because people here utilize different foods and other districts should borrow a leaf from this,” said Chakwera.
Before the president took to the podium, Traditional Authority Mwaulambya of Chitipa District took center stage when he denounced the ‘hate syndrome’ which he says is derailing national development.
He added that the much needed Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) is being frustrated by some people leading to vulnerable households not benefitting from the program.
The chief also took the opportunity to ask government to consider the 32-kilometre Chitipa—Mbilima Border road which he says is in bad shape and impassable during the rainy season.
“We are also asking for the Chitipa—Mbilima Border road as it is our lifeline here, we know you are a pragmatic leader and you are going to do this for us,” he said.
On his part, Paramount Chief Kyungu said there is also need to revisit the administration of the country’s public hospitals which are persistently hit by drug shortages.
“Ironically, private hospitals in the country are mushrooming. You tend to wonder where they are getting the drugs from,” Kyungu said.
Replying to the two chiefs concern especially on AIP, the President said the problems affecting the programme are being highlighted in all the areas he has travelled, inspected crops and interacted with smallholder farmers and necessary measures are being put in place by the Ministry of Agriculture to make sure the next growing season goes smoothly.
He said: “The budget has already been passed and preparations by the ministry of agriculture should be underway by now so that come September, everything should be in place.”
On his part Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe in addition to acknowledging that the current challenges facing AIP are being fixed, he also said he was happy with the progress some crops like bananas and sunflower are doing and his ministry will do everything needed to promote farmers involved with the two crops.
“Chitipa is an agricultural district, and as a ministry we will sit down and see how best we can make the district a food basket in the country,” he said.