The Malawian of 2004 used to take in 1.6 kilorites per day and felt food secure, but now that figure has almost doubled to 2.2 kilorites, an indication that the present administration is living up to its 2004 campaign billing of turning the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member state into a regional food basket.
Principal Secretary for Nutrition in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Mary Shawa, said today the country is now riding up the raddar of food security, as it has improved its Food Availability rating from 1.6 kilorites between 2005/06/07 and 2008 to 2.2 kilorites, a development attributable to the fertiliser subsidy programme. coupled with favourable rains.
The subsidy programme has propelled the country's food production from 1.2 metric tons in 2005 to 3.4 million metric tons in 2007. Malawi has also exported maize to Swaziland and Zimbabwe, a marked improvement from the past when people had to survive on maize husks.
Members of the press who questioned former president, Bakili Muluzi, on reports of hunger hitting some parts of the country faced the wrath of the notorious UDF Young Democrats.
"And, for the first time in 15 years, Malawi has reduced cases of malnutrition mortality rates from 20 per cent to 2 per cent. In most areas, food wasting is now less than 2 per cent, and cases of under-weight children are at between 10 to 14 per cent- an indication that we have improved a lot, and that we have enough food," said Shawa, dispelling notions that some people will starve this year.
Malawi is really turning into a shining star in that, just last week, a team of agriculture experts from Zimbabwe and Swaziland were in the country to pick a leaf from its food security programmes.
President Bingu wa Mutharika recently added icing on the cake when he received an accolade in recognition of his food security efforts.
His subsidy programme, nevertheless, faces a myriad of challenges, one of which being lack of coupons enabling one to receive subsidised farm inputs. Head of Ngoni Chiefs in the Northern Region, Inkosi ya Makosi Mbelwa, recently took Mutharika to task at a development cum political rally in the region, questioning his wisdom for reducing the amount of coupons in his area this year when, last year, there were more coupons.
Mutharika, who is also MInister of Agriculture, remained remained mum on the issue.
However, Deputy Agriculture Minister, Frank Mwenifumbo, said, while the country had made strides in the area of food security, global warming threatened the sustainability of bumper harvests.