28 November 2008 Rome, Lilongwe - Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika was awarded FAO's Agricola Medal in honour of his substantial contribution towards transforming the country’s economy from a state of food deficit to a net exporter of maize.
During a ceremony held in the Malawian capital Lilongwe on 27 November, FAO Director-General, Jacques Diouf, conferred the medal on President wa Mutharika, noting that despite sharply rising food and energy prices earlier in the year, and the negative impacts of climate change, Malawi has been able to contain food prices to the extent that economic growth of 8 percent was forecast for 2008.
In 2005, thanks in a large part to the adoption of an Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme piloted by the Government of President wa Mutharika, the country has succeeded in restoring national food security by increasing access to fertilizers and improved seeds by poor farmers and other vulnerable population groups.
The FAO Director-General also said that Malawi was one of the few countries to have surpassed the agreement reached among Ministers at the 2003 Maputo African Heads of State and Government Conference for a minimum budget allocation of 10 percent for agriculture, by allocating as much as 16 percent to the all-important agriculture sector.
A landlocked country in Southern Africa bordered by Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique with a population of over 13.2 million, very largely rural, Malawi is amongst the poorest countries in Africa with an estimated 35 percent of the population undernourished in 2004.