Two of the stakeholders in the country’s agricultural industry, Seed Trade Association of Malawi (Stam) and the Fertiliser Association of Malawi, have recognised the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development for excellence.
The recognition also extended to former line minister Joseph Mwanamvekha for his contributions towards the sector during his tenure.
Among other highlights, Mwanamvekha is credited to have facilitated the clearance of close to K3.8 billion that government owed the seed companies once he assumed office. The arrears were accrued under the supply of seed in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp).
Speaking on Friday during a farewell dinner in Blantyre, Stam general secretary Nessimu Nyama said Mwanamvekha deserved the honour for his role in revitalising the seed industry through the formulation of the Seed Policy.
He said the policy was outdated as it was formulated in 1996, making some of the issues in the policy, such as lenient penalties for perpetrators of promoting fake seed, not deterrent enough.
He said: “However, we feel this has been addressed in the revised policy and the Seed Bill which we hope will soon become an Act during the next sitting of Parliament, and have in them some stiff penalties that stand to protect the sector more.
“Most importantly, the move stands to benefit the country a lot through improved yields as farmers will now be using certified seed throughout. This is why we commend Mwanamvekha and the entire ministry for working so hard to have these legal frameworks in place.”
On his part, FAM chairperson Dimitri Giannakis also heaped praise on the working partnership with the ministry, and in particular, the former minister.
He said: “He was very practical, approachable and listened to the industry and all these attributes enabled him to address a number of issues with much ease.”
In an interview, Mwanamvekha expressed gratitude for the gesture, attributing the success to the whole ministry for strongly supporting each other which necessitated all the achievements.
“I am personally humbled, but it’s never a one-man-show. Team work reigned. Credit goes to the entire team at the ministry. They had always been supportive,” he said.
Among other strides made during his tenure, Mwanamvekha oversaw the tabling of several legislative pieces to Parliament including the Tobacco Industry Bill and Pesticides Bill, the National Agriculture Policy; apart from the Seed Policy.