Ministry of Agriculture officials have projected that the country will have a surplus of 940,000 metric tonnes of maize from this year’s harvest.
This was disclosed Wednesday at a joint news conference held in the capital Lilongwe by officials from ministries of trade and industry, agriculture and food security and information.
Agriculture minister Peter Mwanza however asked farmers to guard themselves against unnecessary selling of maize to traders who he said only aim at exploiting the farmers by buying the crops and low prices.
“We are also asking the traders to the patriotic and not go into the villages and start buying the maize at cheaper prices. We have also learnt that some foreigners have been going into the villages where they were buying gardens of green maize from the famer,” Mwanza said.
Mwanza said it is against this background that the government is reminding Malawians that the ban on maize export which it imposed last year is still on.
He said the illegal exportation of maize to other countries has resulted in the loss of 140,000 metric tonnes of maize a development he said contributed to the current maize shortages.
“Maize from Malawi have been largely exported out of the country, simply because the price of maize here in Malawi is lower than the prices of maize in other countries like in east Africa and other regions, as a result people are rushing here to buy the maize. Therefore, it’s up to Malawians government to guard against this and ensure that every Malawian is food secure,” he said.
Mwanza said the government is therefore reminding farmers that they should be careful not to sell their maize
“They can sell their maize within the country but should make sure that they have enough to take them from one harvesting season to another because every Malawian knows how much maize they can use in their family and we are telling them that they should do that. But it is unfortunate that unscrupulous traders go into the villages and persuade farmers even to sell the maize they have for their own consumption,” he observed.
Minister of Trade and Industry Sosten Gwengwe said the ban on maize export does not necessarily interfere with matters relating to liberalised markets.
“The issue is that our maize is very cheap regionally and for various reasons government invests a lot in production through many initiatives like the farmers input subsidy, the green belt imitative and the presidential initiative on hunger and poverty reduction. All these are investments in the production of maize that have made our maize become cheap”.
Gwengwe said as a result “we have the situation where neighboring countries which are producing the same at a bit expensive just come and take all the maize from here and sell it regionally leaving us without single grain to eat. And we cannot talk of the full liberalization of maize market for the same reason because it will leave Malawians without food,” said Gwengwe.
A report by Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) has revealed that Malawi will continue to experience shortages of food.
But the Ministry of Agriculture said no one is going to die of hunger in the country.
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