Officials from Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) say the budgeted K6.8 billion that government has allocated for the purchase of maize this year in view of the severe persistent food shortages is too little to have an impact.
Cisanet executive director Tamanda Nkhono said at least K250 billion to K300 billion would have been enough to avert the looming hunger that is expected to hit mostly 8.4 million Malawians.
“If the government wants to import 1.2 million tonnes of maize, then the K6.8 billion is not enough. Importing maize is very expensive but the government has no choice, it has to do it otherwise people will starve,” he said.
Nkhono’s comment come barely days after minister of Agriculture George Chaponda gave a ministerial statement in parliament on the matter.
Chaponda said the government projects a total maize requirement of about 1.3 million metric tons to avert food crisis in the season.
“We have no alternative but to import about one million metric tons of white maize to fill the food gap,” said the minister.
Chaponda said the government has now given money to Admarc to start buying maize from private traders in a bid to avert severe food shortages as was the case last year.
Nkhono however said he was aware that a food budget of K250 billion to K300 billion was beyond the government alone and asked other non government organizations, especially multinational NGOs come in and help.
“The President declared Malawi a state of the nation disaster. This should help our international NGOs raise money for the cause withut any problems,” he said.
Chaponda said the worst-hit affected population would require about 790 000 metric tons of relief food for a period ranging from now up to March next year while the rest of the maize imports would be sold through state-owned markets.
Vice President Saulos Chilima recently said the aid is not forthcoming as the government expected following the declaration of the state of the disaster by President Mutharika.
The United States of America and China are major donors to Mutharika’s call for the food aid.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :