Malawi’s Grain Traders and Processors Association has faulted the government for importing maize from Tanznaia and Zambia instead of asking private traders to supply it.
The country looking to Tanzania and Zambia for the purchase of 70,000 and 30,000 metric tons of maize, respectively, as the country faces the looming specter of hunger.
But president of Grain Traders and Processors Association, Grace Mhango, said local traders can purchase the maize and supply it to the government.
“By importing, the government will end up paying high landing costs compared to local sourcing,” said Mhango.
According to Wilfred Lipita, controller of agricultural services at Malawi’s Agriculture Ministry, the purchase of home-grown maize could affect grain prices.
“If we buy locally, prices might jump because some traders could take advantage of the situation by engaging in speculation,” Lipita is quoted saying, noting that grain prices in Tanzania and Zambia were slightly lower than those currently found in Malawi.
Lipita confirmed that the Tanzanian government had since agreed to sell Malawi 70,000 metric tons of maize.
Opposition political parties in parliament demanded government to treat hunger prevalent in some parts of the country as a matter of urgency.
Nsanje South West parliamentarian Dr. Joseph Chidanti Malunga confessed that a lot of people in his constituency are starving and are surviving on ‘Lily’ or ‘Nyika’ in local language as food.
Peoples Party Central Region President Uladi Mussa questioned why government is letting people suffer with hunger when actually parliament authorised the substantial resources for hunger management.
“I think government is taking Malawians for granted when dealing with the hunger issue in the country. You remember weeks ago we passed a bill in parliament authorizing government to borrow $80 million money from the World Bank among which buying maize was mentioned as a priority then why are they leaving people to starve, these people must be given food immediately”, said Mussa.
Malawi’s chronic food shortage worsened in January when flooding killed 176 people and decimated thousands of hectares of the staple crop.
According to a May report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Malawi’s maize production fell by 27.7 percent — from 3.9 million to 2.9 million metric tons — during the 2014/15 fiscal year.
Maize purchased from Tanzania and Zambia , according to Lipita, will be made available to Malawian citizens, while some will go into the country’s strategic grain reserve, which currently contains only 50,000 metric tons of the commodity.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :