By: Andrew Cane Chilapondwa
It was launched by former Malawian leader, the late Bingu Wa Mutharika as Farm Inputs Subsidy Program (FISP) but Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has advised the government to either reform it or develop an exit strategy.
The program which was launched to benefit poor people by offering coupons in order to buy farm inputs cheaply has not been effective as the targeted people have not benefitted a lot from it.
This has forced ECM to speak out against the program by asking government to reform it or end it.
The statement was made through the Pastoral letter released on Sunday, 13th March 2016, asking the government to put the interest of poor Malawians at heart.
“Whatever reforms that the Government decides to undertake, they must promote the interests of our poor people first and foremost.
“To become a hunger free nation, it is high time that Government seriously considered investment in large scale commercialized irrigation farming infrastructure. This will create an opportunity for many Malawians to grow crops at least twice a year. We believe this is the only way of making food readily accessible and cheap,” reads the statement.
ECM has also demanded an explanation from the government on the whereabouts of the farm tractors and corn-shelling machines that were supposed to be bought.
“In the same vein, we are concerned about conflicting reports regarding the whereabouts of the farm tractors and corn-Shelling machines which the Government purchased to improve agricultural production. We, therefore, call upon the government to investigate this matter. We believe that it will be an act of injustice to subject poor Malawians to the repayment of the loan yet they have not benefited from the tractors and corn-Shelling machines,” further stated the statement.
The Pastoral letter then challenged agricultural and irrigation experts to design and promote policies and programs that can make our country a hunger free nation.
Malawians, especially poor people are experiencing food shortages following last year’s devastating heavy rains and floods.
ECM has asked the Government to come up with policies and actions that will promote human rights, enhance human dignity, particularly for the poor and vulnerable.
The last time ECM released a Pastoral letter was in 2013 during Joyce Banda’s Peoples Party (PP) led administration.