Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Felix Jumbe has said hunger can end and farmers get good returns from their investments if government do away with structures that restrict trade on both regional and international levels.
Jumbe was commenting on the recently released World Bank (WB) report entitled â€˜Africa Can Help Feed Itself: Remove Barriers to Regional Trade in Staple Foodsâ€™ which bemoans Africaâ€™s numerous barriers to trade.
In the report, WB vice-president Makthar Diop blames the continentâ€™s soaring prices of staple foods on trade restrictions and he describes the situation as â€œbad news for Africaâ€™s poorâ€.
â€œJust five percent of Africaâ€™s imports of cereals come from other African countries.
â€œThis issue [rising food prices] is not going to go away. Demand for food will continue to increase. It is projected to double by 2020 and consumers will be increasingly located in Africaâ€™s rapidly growing cities,â€ says Diop.
But Jumbe said Malawi can benefit from the rising prices of food on the global market if it improves its road networks, remove trade barriers and invest heavily in the Green Belt Initiative (GBI).
â€œThe Green Belt Initiative is a brilliant idea, but we need to ask ourselves why other irrigation schemes such as Domasi and Wobvwe in Karonga are not working properly,â€ he said.
Jumbe said government should also analyse issues of financing, organisation and marketing of produce which have negatively affected the schemes and may also work against GBI.
He said Malawi should review colonial laws that are working against globalisation.
â€œMalawi does not need to work in isolation. We need to remove the trade barriers to end hunger and ensure that farmers benefit from their investments,â€ he said.
Malawi, a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Free Trade Area (FTA), regulates export of maize and other strategic crops through licences or outright bans issued under the Control of Goods Act.