Britain stops fertilizer subsidy support to Malawi

Thu Jun 2, 2011 11:23am GMT

* Fertiliser subsidy has been key to food security

* Britain is Malawi's largest donor

* Malawi economy heavily dependent on agriculture

By Mabvuto Banda

LILONGWE, June 2 (Reuters) - Britain has cut financial support for a highly successful seed and fertiliser programme in Malawi, the latest round in a spiralling diplomatic dispute between London and the impoverished southern African nation.

Malawi's former colonial master has also suspended visa-free travel for President Bingu wa Mutharika, his wife, and other top officials pending a "review" of bilateral ties, High Commission political officer Lewis Kulisewa told Reuters.

Britain said last month it was freezing aid worth $550 million over the next four years following the spat, which started with a leaked cable that described Mutharika as "autocratic and intolerant of criticism".

It had been unclear whether the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (FISP), as the fertiliser scheme was called, was included in the suspension given the huge benefits it has brought to thousands of Malawian farmers and the wider economy.   Continued...

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