Banda hails Zim's tobacco production

HARARE - Malawi President Joyce Banda says she is impressed by the level of participation by the country’s small-scale farmers in the production of tobacco.

Addressing the media after touring Boka Tobacco Auction Floors in Harare yesterday, Banda who is in the country for a five-day State visit during which she will also open this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), said she will dispatch a delegation to learn from Zimbabwean farmers.

Banda said she appreciated the role women were playing in the production sector, particularly in cash crop farming, adding it was vital cog in the empowerment of the indigenous population.

“The involvement of small-scale farmers, especially women, is particularly of interest to us as it empowers the ordinary people and we are actually planning to send a team from Malawi to learn from the local farmers. Presidents Gabbuza (Armando) of Mozambique and Mugabe (Robert) here are ardent believers in the empowerment of locals and so am I. We should work together at our level to ensure that,” said Banda.

Meanwhile, the Malawian leader encouraged African leaders to work together towards reducing maternal mortality which she said affected most communities on the continent.

“In Africa the period of pregnancy is a period of anxiety to many families as it is never certain whether the woman would survive yet it must be a right. It is incumbent upon us as African leaders to ensure we reduce the rate and we can do that by involving our traditional leaders. They can help by encouraging women to deliver at health care institutions where they are handled by professionals,” she said after visiting Kuwadzana Polyclinic in Harare.

“In Malawi our chiefs play that role and some clever ones have gone to the extent of imposing fines on women who deliver in the village. Our maternal mortality rate has fallen from 679 to 460 deaths per thousand,” she said.

Banda took over as president after the sudden death of Bingu wa Mutharika, a close ally of Mugabe who shared the Zanu PF leader’s distrust of Western powers.

The Malawian leader seems the opposite and has warmly embraced Western powers which have begun pouring in millions of dollars since she came to power.

She will officially open the 54th edition of the ZITF in Bulawayo on Friday. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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