Friday, September 27, 2013

Rationing of maize, a staple food, is a violation to the Right to Adequate Food, says the Center for Social Concern

By Kondwani Hara,Project Officer, Rural Basic Needs Basket Project

Food security in Malawi is generally equated with maize production, the country’s main staple crop, which accounts for more than 60% of total food production. Achieving food security is high on the agenda of the Malawi government. Notably, Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy recognizes that food security is a prerequisite for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction (IFPRI 2010).

Malawi’s food security is generally defined in terms of adequate production of and access to maize, the country’s staple crop. Maize is grown by over 90% of the farm households and accounts for 60% of calorie/energy consumption, yet due to Malawi Government’s move to start rationing maize in ADMARC markets, many farmers will not meet their daily energy requirements. In fact 80% of smallholder farmers are net buyers of maize (IFPRI 2010).One in three households fail to meet its daily per capita caloric requirement.

In order to allow rural people to have an access to readily available maize, the government established Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (ADMARC). In the past ADMARC depots were all over the place in rural areas. That is not the case now days. Where there is an ADMARC depot, it’s either not functional, with no or inadequate maize for sale.

Gone were the days when ADMARC had the largest network of markets within the southern African region. Government policy was to have an ADMARC market within every 8km of all rural households. Government made sure that food crops, especially maize were really available for deficit households at a subsided price that was the same for the whole country and stayed fixed for the whole year (Khwima Nthala, ECAMA 2009). Unfortunately today, the story is different.

By rationing maize to 10kg per person, is a mockery to an ordinary Malawian and it will be tough to households which are large, more especially in rural areas. This will give chance to vendors to raise maize prices to those who would like to buy a bag or more than one bag.

It is generally recognized that high food price volatility has a negative impact on food security. This volatility affects particularly the most vulnerable groups; smallholder farmers and low income urban and rural populations. Volatility in terms of significant and frequent changes in food prices, results in harmful effects on producers, consumers and states. This phenomenon puts at risk decisions made by producers about what and how much to produce. The increased prices are major factors in the increase in the number of hungry people. This situation may be a threat at the level of the state also because it may confront high inflationary situations with unexpected fiscal and budgetary repercussions, thus generating social tension.

The Right to Food

The right to adequate food is realized when every woman, man and child, alone or in community with others, have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.

In this scenario (increase in food prices), there are measures that can be followed in line with the Right to Food Approach.

Sustainable production and risk management

In a context of soaring food prices, any structural answer to food price volatility must be linked to re-investment in the agricultural sector. It seems significant part if the solution could be found in small scale agriculture and consequently this has to be promoted on a scale large enough to obtain the amount of income and food to satisfy producer and consumer demand. This could be achieved by giving priority to public goods like extension services, and access to credit.

Management of food reserves

The availability and use of strategic food stocks at national, regional and local levels is one of the most important measures. This measure would facilitate the intervention in the food supply when extremely high food volatility situations undermine the right to food of the most vulnerable groups. A rights approach also needs to promote measures to provide more reliable information about stocks management. It would offer better knowledge regarding the stocks level availability, transparency and accountability in the management.

The right to food is recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as part of the right to an adequate standard of living and is enshrined in the 1966 International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Sunday, September 15, 2013



The President, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda and her Government are deeply appalled and horrified with the barbaric and targeted shooting of the Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Paul Mphwiyo, on Friday night as he was getting into his residence.

Mr. Mphwiyo was severely wounded from the shooting and was evacuated by Government and is presently in hospital in South Africa in a critical but stable condition. Government wishes to assure Mr. Mphwiyo’s family and the whole nation that it will do everything in its power to save the life of the Budget Director.

The Government wishes to assure the public that the police and other law enforcement agencies are working around the clock to apprehend and bring to book perpetrators of this heinous crime.

The Government wishes to notify the public that it strongly believes that Mr. Mphwiyo’s shooting was not just any other robbery but a planned and targeted attack aimed at silencing him and the Government in the fight against high levels of corruption and

Furthermore, the Government wishes to assure all officers in the Malawi Public Service and Malawians in general that it will do its utmost to provide adequate security to those assisting the Government to fight corruption and fraud.

The President and the Government therefore wish to assure all Malawians that the fight against corruption and organised fraud in Government, which had become entrenched in the past years, will in no way be deterred by this shooting but it will be sustained to ensure that these evils are rooted out of the Government and the nation at large.

Office the President and Cabinet
15th September, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ralph Jooma: I Have Never Been Slapped in 30 Years!

Economic Planning and Development Minister, Ralph Jooma, who was reportedly roughed up as he tried to mediate in the wrangle between a crew from the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Television and irate Muslims who grabbed their camera purportedly for making film without seeking permission, says the reports were not true, further disclosing that he has "never been beaten in 30 years".

Jooma told Zachimalawi that he does not have "ambitions to get beaten, let alone slapped" in the foreseeable future.

"Those reports (of me being beaten) were not true. Someone, some unresponsible journalist who decided to write simply because his or her pen had ink, cooked that story up," Jooma said.

Added Jooma, himself a Muslim: "When I read that story, I laughed. I run for the mirror to check myself up, and all I could see was that my face was as smooth as that of a baby. There no no scratch- because the reports were not true- and I was just as good as I have ever been. I don't even remember when I was beaten in my life."

The Mangochi fiasco has come to an end following the decision by Muslim leaders to release the camera they confiscated, Information and Civic Education Minister, Moses Kunkuyu, has confirmed the development through his Facebook page.

That means, while Jooma still has his "baby face", MBC Television has its camera back!

Mangochi Muslims Surrender MBC TV Camera

After arguments and counter-arguments over the confiscation of a television camera belonging to Malawi Broadcasting Corporation television for what the Mangochi Muslims described as 'disrespect' for a mosque, the issue is water under the bridge, Information and Civic Education Minister Moses Kunkuyu has said.

This follows over eight days of lack of consensus, after Muslim leaders confiscated the camera after accusing a crew from MBC of filming events at a mosque without seeking permission. However, MBC management maintained that permission was sought from local leaders and given.

Immediately after the camera was confiscated, two cabinet ministers- Ibrahim Matola and Ralph Jooma- were embroiled in a scuffle with their fellow Muslim brothers as they attempted to reason with the Mangochi Muslim leaders to release the camera.

But, writing on his Facebook page, Kunkuyu indicated that the issue was out-and-settled.

"(The) Government would like to applaud the Muslims of Mangochi for the wonderful gesture shown by surrendering back to MBC the Camera they confisticated on Saturday 24th Augist 2013. This is in a truly patriotic spirit to our country and in line with the tenets of Islamic teaching of peace."

End of case!