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China pledges K7bn for relief food

The Chinese government has with immediate effect committed to give Malawi about K6.9 billion to buy maize and other food items in the wake of hunger in the country.

This was announced Sunday in Lilongwe by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi when he made a courtesy call on President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace during his one-day visit to Malawi.

“After assessing the country’s food security position, China is immediately committing U$D 9.23 million [K6.9 at K750 to 1U$D] to provide temporary relief. But I must emphasise on that Malawi should guarantee political commitment to China and vice versa so that these continue,” said Yi.

While appreciating the gesture, Malawi’s Foreign Affairs Minister, George Chaponda, also disclosed that China has pledged to send flood control experts to assess how they can help with issues of flooding, especially in the Shire Valley areas.

“That will make issues of flooding history because they have also dealt with floods in their country. China has also pledged to provide irrigation experts to modernise our agriculture sector, especially this time when we are grappling with El Nino and climate change which have compromised our agricultural production.

“There are strong fears of decreased agricultural production this year owing to, among others, armyworm infestation, which has affected thousands of hectares, especially in the Southern Region,” said Chaponda.

In his remarks, Mutharika said the support will cover poor and vulnerable communities located in the country’s 15 disaster-prone districts.

“China has always helped us in disaster relief and risk reduction on many occasions. Not long time ago, China supported Malawi with about U$D 600,000 towards flood relief efforts,” he said.

Mutharika also said his government is looking forward to the second phase of the China-Malawi enumerated project cycle which include the Kammwamba Coal Fired Power Plant, National Identity Project, Tsangano- Neno-Mwanza Road , Chileka International Airport, Mangochi-Makanjira Road, Lilongwe Dual Carriageway, a cancer centre in

Blantyre, Upgrading of a powerline from Makanjira, Nkhotakota to Chatoloma and the construction of a new Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Lilongwe.

“This pledge is in line with the goals of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and the fulfilment of this commitment has the potential to uplift the economy of the Malawi into a productive and competitive one,” said Mutharika.

Yi is on a four-country Africa tour and is expected to visit Mozambique, Mauritius and Namibia.

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