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Government urged to devolve agriculture budget

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By Watipaso Mzungu, Contributor:

Ward councillors in Kasungu have called on stakeholders to improve service delivery to the agriculture sector if the country is to enhance food production at national level.

The councillors made the remarks during a National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP) awareness meeting.

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Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) organised the meeting with funding from Oxfam to popularise the draft NAIP, which aims to promote sustainable agricultural transformation, expand incomes to farmers, improve food and nutrition security and increase agricultural exports, among others.

Councillor for Matenje Ward in Kasungu North West, Shadreck Mvula, said Malawi should improve service provision in the sector by, first, sorting out human resource issues.

Mvula, who is also chairperson of the Agriculture Service Committee, said, in the present scenario, it would be hard for Malawi to achieve food and nutrition security due to budget limitations.

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“It’s an issue of huge concern to us, councillors, that the government is failing to devolve the budget to the agriculturel sector. The government should give us power to plan, formulate and implement the agriculture budget just like in the Ministry of Health and Population Services, where everything is done at council level,” he said.

Cisanet Head of Programmes, Alfred Kambwiri, said, although Malawi has met the Malabo Declaration requirements on agriculture financing, the country continues to struggle to achieve food and nutrition security because a significant part of allocations go to a safety net programme such as the Farm Input Subsidy Programme.

The declaration compels governments to allocate 10 percent of their annual budget to the agriculture sector to realise six percent annual agriculture gross domestic product.

“We know that the resource envelope is not big enough but we would like to urge the government to ensure that a big chunk goes to the agriculture sector at district council level because this is the lifeline of the nation,” he said.

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