Malawi procure maize to feed starving millions: Used presidential jet money

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security James Munthali has assured the public that Government through Agriculture Development Marketing Cooperation (Admarc) and National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has procured 66 000 metric tonnes of maize for sale and humanitarian purposes.

The Minister said the recommended amount of maize for the country to cater for the whole year is 80 000 metric tonnes which means that the country is lacking short of only 14 000 metric tonnes which he promised that the government will procure before the end of year.

He made the statement in Lilongwe, on Monday where he was briefing the press in company of Information and Civic Education Minister Brown James Mpinganjira and other senior government officials, on the stand of food security in the country amid fears from other sectors that there is hunger in the country.

Munthali explained that from the 66 000 metric tonnes of the maize that the country has, 50 000 metric tonnes will be sold to the public at the rationalised rate and 10 000 metric tonnes has already been dispatched and distributed to vulnerable groups by World Food Programme (WFP).

Munthali and Mpinganjira addressing the press.- Photo Lissa Vintulla,Mana

“As of now, the country is not in dire state but all I can say is that government is working hand in hand with development partners like WFP who already started the distribution process in October this year.

“Out of the 66 000 metric tonnes, 30 000 metric tonnes of maize was bought locally, meaning that traders in the country hid their maize to sell in anticipation for better prices in future,” said Munthali.

He added that he believed traders came out in the open to sell their maize to Admarc when they heard that government intended to buy maize in Zambia.

The minister went on to say that in the meantime they have no plans to cancel the plans to buy maize in Zambia considering that anything could happen.

“The agreement with government of Zambia is intact we are putting our plans on hold,” he said.

Munthali highlighted that the money that has been used to buy maize has been proceeds from the sale of the Presidential Jet Craft and loans from commercial banks.

“About $2.5 million proceeds from selling of the jet, K1.3 billion (about $3.2m) given to Admarc and close to 3 billion given to NFRA as loans from commercial banks has been used to buy the maize in question,” he said.

According to Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee Report (MVAC) of 2013, about 1.5 Million people have been hit by hunger in the 21 districts of the country.

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