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Miracle of Malawi

20 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 17 November 2009

They call it the Malawi Miracle. A few years ago, it was a country that desperately needed food aid just to survive.

Then Malawi's National Assembly took the step of handing out expensive subsidies for fertilisers and seeds, even to the smallest of farmers.

These, luckily combined with heavy rains, led to a doubling of corn production; Malawi was able to fend for itself.

Other African countries are now hoping to repeat this kind of subsidy programme. There are questions though, about the heavy financial cost, and environmentalists worry that it might lead to farmers becoming dependent on genetically modified seeds, or on nitrogen fertilizers, which produce damaging greenhouse gases.

The BBC's Nils Blyth reports from Malawi on how lives have been changed by the increase in food production, as well as concerns about the sustainability of the subsidy programmes.

And, how should companies approach the moral issue of working with dictatorships or regimes which are accused of being repressive? David Faktor, group managing director of the steel trading and distribution group, Stemcor, talks about operating in Belarus.

And the former chief executive of British Aerospace, Sir Raymond Lygo, in an authored piece, gives a robust defence of business deals such as the controversial Al-Yamamah deal with Saudi Arabia.


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