President Joyce Banda on Tuesday met co-founders of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS), Graca Machel and Nkosana Moyo at Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria, South Africa.

During the meeting she reiterated her government’s resolve and commitment to eradicate hunger and poverty among the people.

Speaking in an interview from Pretoria, State House Press Officer Tusekele Mwanyongo said the meeting was a follow up to two missions that officials from the MINDS have undertaken to Malawi since the President was inaugurated on April 7, 2012.

“MINDS’ main focus of cooperation with Her Excellency’s Government is on the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty Reduction. MINDS officials led by another co-founder Moyo have met President Banda twice in Malawi and today’s meeting was an assessment session on the progress so far made and to map out the way forward,” said Mwanyongo.

According to Mwanyongo, Banda told the meeting that within the objectives of the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty Eradication is the component of transforming agriculture in Malawi so that it is not only about achieving food security but also a means of generating income for farming families.

She said within the framework of the Initiative, her government intends to encourage and support the production of export potential crops such as soya, pigeon and sugar beans, rice, sunflower and groundnuts, among others in helping the country to move from aid to trade. One of the President’s main focus is to encourage mechanised agriculture through the acquisition of appropriate technologies that could be used by envisaged farmer cooperatives.

“The President told the meeting that at least 1.6 million people in Malawi are under the threat of hunger and that as one way of averting the effects of hunger, the government is advocating for winter-cropping in selected areas.

“Apart from this, Banda also briefed MINDS that her government has also registered all households under the threat of hunger and that these would be assisted with food relief and modest incomes through the cash transfer projects that are already being implemented,” he said.

In her remarks, Graca Machel said MINDS have special interest in the prosperity of Malawi as she has known the President for a long time as a champion for empowerment of the poor and the marginalized.

“We are proud of Your Excellency for what you have achieved over the years. As Head of State, we want you to succeed and succeed well and this is the time that we have to design together what kind of future we want for our people.

“We want to walk the walk with you in these challenging times,” said the wife of South African iconic former leader, Nelson Mandela.

MINDS has also undertaken to assist the Malawi Government in institutional and capacity building of governance institutions.

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