Joyce Banda crop inspection field destroyed

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Maize crop in a garden that President Joyce Banda inspected in Traditional Authority Makata’s area in Blantyre two weeks ago has been destroyed by unknown people who pulled down stalks.

The media visited the affected field on Wednesday which belongs to businessman Charles Mitondo based at Lunzu Trading Centre.

In an interview, Charles’ sister Florence Mitondo, who looks after the maize field and who met President Banda during the inspection tour, said the incident happened just two days after she had inspected the field.

She described the incident as a huge loss and a huge disappointment.

“I really don’t know how it happened. We just woke up in the morning and found that the maize in this part of the garden has fallen down. At first, I thought the crop has been attacked by termites, but as you can see there is nothing and the stalks are just as strong as they were when the President inspected the garden,” said a visibly disappointed Florence.

“I do not remember hearing a storm or any heavy wind that night. All I can say is that only God knows what happened,” added Florence whose house is just a few metres away from the garden.

During a tour around the affected part of the three hectare field, The media saw a clear field of about one hectare with maize stalks either lying on the ground or twisted, just as is the case when the maize has been harvested.

A close observation showed that the affected maize stalks were slashed or twisted at the middle with the lower part of the stalk still standing firm on the ground and had its green maize cobs intact.

The maize crop in other gardens around the affected field, which is not as healthy as the one that the President inspected, is unscathed.

There are speculations that some people have vandalised the garden over a cash gift that President Banda publicly gave to Florence after inspecting her garden.

Florence said the President gave her a K50,000 cash gift, but refused to link the damage to the gift.

In a separate interview, her brother Charles said the damage is a big loss to him considering that he invested a lot of money in the field.

“I had huge expectations this year. Agricultural experts who accompanied the President during her visit had estimated a yield of over 200 bags from just a section that the President inspected. This is very sad because obviously my yield will be reduced,” Charles said.

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