September 25, 2008

Food Crisis Threatening World Stability – Malawian President

Excerpt from report by state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio on 25 September

[Presenter] His Excellency the president, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, has said the current food crisis that has rocked the world poses a new threat to the stability of social framework and economic prosperity of all countries in the world, especially the small nations.

President Mutharika was addressing the on-going United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In a speech, which he titled The Global Food Crisis: a Collective Challenge to the United Nations, Dr Mutharika said during the past 20 years, the food production in many countries has been affected by severe climate changes such as cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, floods, droughts, rising sea levels and desertification.

The president said high dependency on rain-fed agriculture has also caused a great challenge especially in countries in the sub- Saharan region. He said agriculture and food production had been given low priority by the international development institutions in their allocation of resources and investment funds.

Dr Mutharika said this has been compounded by low national budgetary allocation to food production in many countries, especially in Africa.

The president therefore said the food crisis resulted from failure of all nations to increase performance in the production of staple food crops such as wheat, rice and maize. He also said there was general concern in Africa that multi-lateral and bi-lateral institutions continued to oppose subsidies to agriculture and food production, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. [Passage omitted]

The Malawi government sees the attainment of global food security as a collective challenge. This must be premised on the ability to produce sufficient food and to move such food from surplus areas anywhere on the globe to food deficit areas.

In order to alleviate the global food crisis Malawi proposes that a contract should be reached that countries that can produce sufficient food surpluses should be empowered to share with others in the world wherever they may be through a fair international trading system. This would ensure that the entire humanity has enough food.

Second, Malawi proposes that the United nations should urge industrialized countries to make significant increases in resource allocation into agriculture, especially food production. Special attention should be given to improve infrastructure, machinery and equipment and capacity building for farmers, especially small- holder farmers. The private sector in industrialized countries should be persuaded to increase investment in food production, paying special attention to the application of science and technology to agriculture, research on climate change and on the measures to protect food producing countries from the vagaries of the climate.

Third, Malawi believes that a global food crisis could be mitigated if the United Nations, the World Bank and other multi- lateral and donor agencies would seriously consider granting subsidies for agriculture and food production as an integral part of their global development policy and aid packages to developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

It will also be useful if the international community could acknowledge Africa's potential and capacity to contribute significantly to the solution of the global food shortage. The United Nations should fully support the alliance for an African Green Revolution chaired by the former secretary general of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan.

To this specifically Malawi appeals to the G-8 countries to support us to create a Green Belt around our lakes and along our rivers to irrigate land up to 20 kilometres from the shores. The Malawi government plans to grow a lot of rice, wheat, maize, millet, cassava, potatoes, beans and [words indistinct] for the local and international market. [Passage omitted]

Originally published by MBC radio, Blantyre, in English 1600 25 Sep 08.

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