President Lazarus Chakwera says complaints about cost of the Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) come from people who live in ivory towers on a full stomach.
The Malawi leader has since declared that his administration will not abandon AIP, saying the cost of keeping Malawi a hungry nation that begs for food is far greater than the cost of the AIP.
He made the remarks at the official opening of the 17th National Agricultural Fair at Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds, Blantyre.
Chakwera said the need to achieve permanent food security cannot be overemphasized as there is no honour in being a country that starves or begs for food.
He then said that the biggest achievement of the AIP is not that there are 3.7 million farming households with something to eat.
“The biggest achievement of the AIP is that there are 3.7 million farming households able to walk with heads held high from being able to produce so much with their hands.
“AIP has injected a spirit of self-reliance in our citizens, a spirit that others were content to keep broken.
“We must never easily surrender the things that give us a sense of national pride, nor must we trivialize such things, as some seem to be in the habit of doing,” said Chakwera.
The Malawi leader added that AIP has made it possible for Malawi to achieve food surpluses in all food grains for the first time in a long time and the surplus in maize alone is in excess of 1.2 million metric tonnes.
Chakwera then noted that there are those who complain about the cost of the AIP, which was allocated K142 billion in the 2021/22 financial year.
“But such complaints are the luxury of the few who live in ivory towers on a full stomach.
“The cost of keeping Malawi a hungry nation that begs for food is far greater than the cost of the AIP. As such, while we are actively seeking alternative and cheaper ways of achieving food security, we must never entertain the abandonment of AIP until such alternatives are fully developed,” said Chakwera.
On National Agriculture Fairs, Chakwera said they are critical to Malawi’s quest for greater productivity. He added that fairs add value to that pursuit by disseminating information to farmers on the right varieties to plant and when, the type of fertilisers and chemicals to apply and where to obtain them, the markets where their produce is in demand, and so on.
He further talked about the importance of agriculture, saying it is asector that creates most jobs and where Malawi’s exports and forex earning are growing from.
He added that making Malawi’s agriculture sector a success is foundational to diversifying the country’s economy.
According to Chakwera, economies of countries such as United States and China tick because of agriculture.
He therefore argued it should not be regarded as a liability that over 80 percent of Malawians are engaged in primary agriculture.
“We must never forget that a citizen who grows their own crop is the closest thing to a citizen who prints his own money,” says Chakwera.