African Development Bank (AfDB) Group president Akinwuni Adesina on Wednesday reiterated that it is time Malawi became food secure and started to feed itself instead of relying on donors for help.
Briefing journalists in Blantyre at the end of his two-day visit of the country, he said the country should intensify irrigation farming, stressing that the expected Shire Valley Irrigation Project, touted to be one of Malawi’s largest irrigation schemes, has full support of the pan-African bank.
“Malawi has no business not to feed itself…we want to support commercial agriculture, smallholder farmers on subsidy and to support young people to reduce malnutrition,” he said, stressing that agriculture needs to be finished business.
His comments come against the background of food shortage that has affected close to three million people in the country largely due to the twin problems of droughts and dry spells last year.
The AfDB’s portfolio of development support, which has been at $310 million (about K208 billion), but will be increased to $578 million (K388.4 billion) in the 2016/17 financial year is 60 percent taken up by infrastructure, transport, water and energy, according to a communiqué read out yesterday after a meeting Adesina had with Malawi authorities.
The authorities included Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Charles Chuka, Minister of Industry and Trade Joseph Mwanamvekha and Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka and Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Erica Maganga.
Adesina, who spoke on a wide range of issues, including energy, said they are complementing efforts of other partners such as the World Bank, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and United States Powerhouse Initiative to support greater power generation in Malawi.
“We want Malawians to be using clean cooking energy instead of relying on charcoal,” he said.
At this point, Adesina said feasibility studies for hydro power potential on Songwe River, which has capacity to produce 300 megawatts (MW) and Kholombidzo, with potential for 100MW, have been finalised.
If these projects are finalised, Malawi’s power generation capacity will increase substantially from the current installed capacity of 351MW.
Leader of delegation from Malawi during yesterday’s meeting, Mwanamvekha, said the trip by the AfDB president has been fruitful, particularly on the financial support the bank has pledged to Malawi.
On Tuesday, Adesina met with President Peter Mutharika at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.