Food situation improves, government says 8 percent of population will require food aid

A total of 1,496,396 people will likely not be able to meet their annual food requirement during the 2021/22 consumption period, representing about 8 percent of the projected total population of 18,827,607.

However, this is an improvement from last year when almost double that figure were food insecure.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, August 25, 2021, Secretary for Economic Planning, Development and Public Sector Reforms, Dr. Winford Masanjala says this figure represents a decrease of 43 percent when compared to the corresponding figure of 2,642,336 people for the 2020/21 consumption period.

“The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, through the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC), carried out an annual food security assessment exercise which was completed on 13 August 2021.

Prof Dr Winford Masanjala, Secretary for Economic Planning, Development and Public Sector Reforms

“The exercise aimed at assessing the level of vulnerability to food insecurity in the country and determining the number of people who are likely to be food insecure during the 2021 /22 consumption year,” reads the press release in part.

According to Masanjala, out of this total affected population, 1,252,277 and 186,254 people are from the rural areas and cities, respectively, while 57915 people are from the ‘Bomas’.

The rural vulnerable population has decreased by 38 percent in the prevailing consumption year, from 2,032, 106 to 1,252,277 people while the urban vulnerable population has decreased by 69 percent from 610,429 to 1 86,254 people, according to the ministry.

According to the communication, the affected population is in all districts of the country and that in order to protect livelihoods, the vulnerable population will require humanitarian food assistance that has been estimated at 35,296 metric tonnes of maize estimated at K7.94 billion.

“The vulnerable population in rural areas will require food assistance for a period ranging from 2 to 3 months while those in Bomas and cities will require food assistance for a period of two months.

“The decrease in the affected population is due to increased agricultural production as a result of good rainfall distribution and increased access to fertiliser and improved seeds, despite reports of dry spells, crop diseases as well as Fall Army Worm infestation in some districts,” concludes the release.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, maize production has been estimated at 4,581,524 metric tonnes in the 2020/21 agriculture season compared to 3,785,712 metric tonnes in the 2019/20 agriculture Season, representing an increase of 21 percent.

During the presentation of the 2021/22 National Budget, Finance Minister Felix Mlusu said the introduction of the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), which targeted 4.2 million farm families last year, was a success. He said AIP had not only helped to achieve food security but also contributed to creation of jobs and business opportunities to small and medium scale enterprises especially those in the transport and real estate sectors.

According to Mlusu, the government is poised to continue with the AIP this year. However, it is likely that the programme will face serious hiccups owing to a sharp increase in fertilizer on the local market, which is a response to rising prices on the global market.

Already, the government recently announced a cut in the number of beneficiaries by at least 1 million.

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