Jumbe: Agricultural Budget is Lacking

By: Happy Arnold Soko

Jumbe Denies Allegations that Agriculture gets lion’s share.

The Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Felix Jumbe has denied allegations that the sector has received a lion’s share in the 2016/2017 budget pegged at K 1.2 trillion presented by the Minister of Finance.

Speaking in an interview with The Malawi Star on Monday, Jumbe said the presented budget lacks the necessary economic components of development for the agricultural sector.

According to the presented budget, K198.5 billion was allocated to Agriculture, of which K31 billion is meant for the Farm Inputs Subsidy Program, K30 billion for relief food, K32 billion for salaries. Over K105 billion is committed to already running projects like the green belt initiative.

Jumbe described this budget as something which has no potential for economic stimulus, rather one that simply maintains the status quo.

He bemoaned that Malawi needs to start to exporting large quantities of agricultural goods, but that this change which would transform the country into a predominantly exporting country is something that cannot be realized in the current budget.

“People can indeed say the agriculture sector has received a lion’s share; this is because they lack critical analysis to break down the components constituting the budget. All in all there is nothing new and the budget lacks content and substance. This means that we have made little effort in changing the face of Agriculture’’ said Jumbe.

Jumbe further indicated that Malawi can hardly make significant strides in ending the country’s recurring hunger crisis without these necessary changes to the budget.

According to Jumbe, the Agricultural Committee will soon submit their observations of the budget after conducting cluster meetings.

He expressed an intent to propose capitalization of all farms in the Ministry of Agriculture and all activities that generate income, so as to enhance productivity in the sector.

The Chairperson further pointed out the need for financial institutions in the country to chip in with funds that will help propel the commercial agricultural economy.

“What we need is to stop practicing cultural agriculture. We need to migrate to commercial farming. Commercial agriculture would require financing and farmers need to borrow from the banks in order to make massive production. All these will need a change in policy making in terms of financing for inputs and production.”