Another idea for the honourable MP Minister Chiyembekeza
Recently the honourable MP Minister of agriculture Chiyembekeza said that people with criticism but no ideas have nothing to offer. His own policy looks like he has only limited ideas to offer so let’s help him and have something to offer.
At some point recently Mr honourable Chiyembekeza mentioned that Malawi will not move away from tobacco as the main forex earner. This is retroactive action that will take us back to the post. He can say a lot, but the international health organisations led by WHO (World Health Organisation) are not impressed with a minister from a very small country with one of the smallest economies of the world. They are moving on in their fight against disease including the diseases caused by tobacco. IN western countries tobacco use is steadily and quickly declining. In the growing economies of the East, mostly China and India, tobacco sales may be slightly growing, but as these countries develop at lightning speed (contrary to the snail’s pace of Malawi) the consumers there are going to demand protection against others tobacco smoke from their governments. In other words: it is not going to take long for these countries to also achieve lower and lower sales of tobacco. In the long term tobacco is not a feasible mainstay of the economy.
What we need is action now, not action in the far future. We need to be prepared for the inevitable changes in the world economy. What we need is diversification. Crop diversification, away from only tobacco, towards many others, like chilli’s, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, peppers, coffee, tea, etc.
Another important forex earner could be tourism.
For the diverse crops the biggest challenges for the farmers are know-how on growing them in varieties that will fetch good prices on the world market and access to markets.
In the first instance, what farmers need are good extension services, which were in place during Kamuzu Banda’s days, but that were neglected ever since. They need to be revived with refresher courses, and good budgets to work and to travel in their respective areas. The success of commercial extension services in the Integrated Production System (contract farming) are a case in point how much there is to win with recommended agricultural practices. This is where the honourable MP Minister Chiyembekeza comes in: his ministry is responsible for extension services.
Secondly: access to markets. This is well established for tobacco with the auction system and now the IPS. But for other crops farmers have trouble reaching the world market. Again this is the responsibility of government: they need to have parallel systems for other feasible crops from smallholder farmers, to connect them to the world market. AHL (Auction Holdings Limited) is well placed to diversify, even though they are infamous for their corrupt practices. These should also be rooted out by government: AHL needs to have a vigilant anti-corruption policy with strong complaint services for anyone who feels having been disadvantaged by AHL staff or policies.
All this together should keep the honourable MP Minister Chiyembekeza busy, and I hope he understands that many people complaining do so out of patriotism. If he gets this type of criticism, he better take it to heart and thank the complainant for supporting government. He should stop complaining about the population himself and get to work.