- Hoping for a Better Harvest
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
October 23, 2002
Posted to the web October 23, 2002
Crop diversification, irrigation and the expansion of a free farm
scheme for Malawi's subsistence producers are among the measures
being introduced by the government to boost food output next year.
"We have embarked on a civic education campaign to teach our people to
diversify their eating habits and move away from a total dependence on
maize to tubers for example, and other foods like rice," Commissioner
Disaster Preparedness Relief and Rehabilitation Lucius Chikuni told
He said the government was using social welfare workers in rural
communities to spread the word on the value of drought-resistant crops
like cassava over the staple maize, which is sensitive to climatic
conditions. Most of Malawi's rice, produced along the shores of Lake
Malawi, is exported to Zambia and Zimbabwe rather than consumed
locally. Cassava is traditionally eaten in the northern region, but has
been effectively marketed in the rest of the country.
Food security in Malawi has been undermined by two poor
seasons which has left more than 3.3 million in need of aid until next
harvest in April/May.
Although Malawi has an irrigation potential of 800,000 hectares, only
56,000 hectares have been developed, and of those just 8,000 are in
hands of small-scale producers as opposed to commercial estate owners.
"The problem is the poverty factor, our people cannot raise the capital
irrigation," said Chikuni. "But unless we do something about improving
irrigation we will not get out of the problem [of low food yields]."
To that end the government has joined the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organisation in a project to provide 200,000 treadle pumps to poor
families. "It will take US $240 million to address the current food
buy 200,000 treadle pumps requires only US $80 million. It's a
investment to make," Chikuni said.
The government had introduced a free agricultural "starter pack"
in 1998/1999 for rural households, which was scaled down under donor
pressure to more effectively target the poorest farmers. In response to
current food crisis, the government intends to pay for the expansion of
programme to reach an extra one million farm families from the current
donor-funded two million.
The starter packs contain enough fertiliser, maize seed and beans to
cover a modest 0.1 hectares. But according to Chikuni, the expansion
the programme would allow Malawi to hit a production level of 2.3
mt of maize which it last achieved in 1999/2000. Domestic food
consumption needs are 1.8 million mt.
"We have to run the starter packs for three years to allow people to
recover from the impact of the famine following two successive bad
seasons. People need to build up surpluses to earn enough money to pay
for their own inputs. We certainly don't wish to continue endlessly
Malawi's Government Sets Up Special Loan Scheme
Business Day (Johannesburg)
October 23, 2002
Posted to the web October 23, 2002
UNDER pressure from the public for selling most privatised stateowned
companies to foreigners, the Malawi government this week launched a
new initiative aimed at helping more local citizens acquire shares in
The government, which started a donor-prescribed privatisation
programme in 1996 amid public resentment, has established a collective
investment scheme called National Investment Trust Limited (NITL)
through which only Malawians will be offered loans to buy shares in
The scheme opened a public offer for 40-million shares worth R10m on
Monday. The offer will run through to November 29 this year, after
will be listed on the country's infant stock exchange, which has only
"The initial shareholders will be Malawians but investors will have the
to sale their shares to other people later," said Jimmy Lipunga,
Privatisation Commission finance director.
He said a special loan scheme has been set up, with funds raised from
previous privatisations, to offer concessional loans to any interested
Malawian with a formal job or a registered business.
The loans will attract an interest of 10% in an economy with
lending rates of about 50%. Through the initiative, government will
between 15 to 25% shares in some privatised companies for sale to
The scheme has shares in two blue chip commercial banks, a building
society, a sugar company and several small firms.
Privatisation was instituted because the state was unable to
state-owned enterprises due to budget deficits.
Malawi accepted International Monetary and World Bank lending
and launched the privatisation programme.
Zimbabwe police arrest the nude 'ghost'
A thief who disguised himself as a ghost using ash
and grease and robbed
foreigners at a prime tourist site in southern
Zimbabwe has been arrested,
the Herald newspaper reported Saturday.
The thief, who worked naked, his body daubed with
ash, took goods and
money worth 20-million Zimbabwe dollars ($360 000)
over a four-year period
from tourists to the Great Zimbabwe monument, an
"Some tourists even formulated theories that the
'ghost' was the godfather of
the monuments, angry with the constant visit of
foreigners," the paper said.
Police ended the bogus bogeyman's lucrative spree
last week when they
raided his home in Masvingo, 292 kilometres south of
Harare, the Herald
reported. - Sapa-AFP