Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who is also African Union chairman said that Africa should fight for subsidies for its poor farmers so as to achieve food security on the continent.
The World Bank and the IMF have opposed agricultural subsidies for poor African farmers because of the high costs associated with the initiative.
“Africa should stand up and fight for subsidies for poor farmers … the new partnership with the donor community should be based on strengthening the subsidies for African smallholder farmers, especially women,” wa Mutharika told a meeting of African agriculture ministers, Reuters reports.
“There is no way an African farmer can survive without subsidies … such subsidies would be directed towards the purchase of fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, tractors, and irrigation equipment, extension services and marketing,” he added.
Wa Mutharika said Africa currently spends almost $22 billion annually on importing food and exports food worth $14 billion.
“Invariably, Africa is a net importer of food … The impact of all this is felt most by the 400 million people who live on less than $1 a day and who cannot afford to buy food to eat,” he said.
Malawi’s own seed and fertilizer subsidy programme has helped its farmers achieve five consecutive bumper harvests that have driven economic growth averaging 7 percent a year over the past four years.
The government relies on foreign donors to fund about 40 percent of its budget.