Grain reserves have now been depleted and the country within a month run out of maize which will trigger inflation and the cost of life.
The general manager of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) Nasinuko Saukira has said only four out of the 36 silos have maize which means the country has only 20000 metric tonnes of the grain.
“Our maize stocks are extremely low and this might affect half of the population,” he said.
This comes at a time when President Peter Mutharika and Agriculture minister George Chaponda are assuring the nation that the country has enough maize stocks.
Chaponda told parliament this week that government officials are in Brazil and Mexico to buy maize.
He said Zambia and Tanzania, where the government had high hopes of getting the maize, are now very conscious not to sell much because of the looming food shortages.
Nasimuko said the government has just released K10 billion for the purchase of maize locally and the process is going on very slowly because of scarcity of maize and exhobitant prices vendors are selling.
Speaking after touring NFRA Headquarters in Lilongwe, Chaponda said about 20, 000 tonnes have already been bought.
“NFRA is supposed to buy 40,000 tonnes of maize and half of it has already been bought. We started buying the maize on Monday and am impressed with the way farmers are coming to sell maize to the agency,” he said.
Chaponda also said he was impressed with how offloading of the maize was done, checking the quality, fumigation and how the maize is stored.
“We submitted tenders to buy maize from outside the country and some have already shown interest to sell their maize, but most of the maize would be coming from neighbouring countries,” explained Chaponda.
He then said his ministry is empowering about 285, 000 small holder farmers to be using solar and treadle pumps to produce more maize and sell them to NFRA and Agricultural Development Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC).
According to Chaponda, People’s Republic of China would also help Malawi with rice and the aid is expected to arrive in the country in July and August while maize from Zambia would start coming in the country in September.
He explained that some maize will come from Brazil, World Food Programme (WFP) would also buy its own maize and the United States of America (USA) will support the country with 44 million USD to buy maize.
Maize prices still remain extremely high with vendors in Nsanje selling K17000 per bag of 50 kg.
The country needs at least 1.2 million tonnes of maize this year because the country produced barely 48 per cent of its food production capacity due to El Nino weather phenomenon prompting Mutharika to declare Malawi a state of nation disaster. –Additional reporting by Linda Likomwa – ManaFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :