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Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 22 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will detail the total funding by his Department of the Vipyha forestry project in Malawi; and if he will make a statement about its future.

British aid for the Vipyha plantation in Malawi started in the 1950s when the Commonwealth Development Corporation established pilot pine plantations. British Government loans were first made in 1964.Figures for earlier expenditure are not available except at disproportionate cost, but since 1978 almost £3,000,000 in capital aid has been committed, and we have also provided technical and advisory support. The sum of £200,000 for fire-fighting vehicles and equipment was approved in February 1990. The future of the plantation is a matter for the Malawi Government. I understand that a number of possible ways of utilising the timber on a viable and sustainable basis are being considered.