The country’s consumer and human rights activist, John Kapito has condemned government for being clueless, helpless and inconsiderate in finding solutions to the current food shortage the country is facing.
Kapito has since branded the current shortage and higher prices of maize on the market as shame to the nation and called on government to act immediately if the country is to be saved from the looming crisis.
President Peter Mutharika last week admitted that people in the country are currently starving due to food shortage.
Private traders are currently selling the grain at exorbitant prices with a 50kg bag going at a minimum of K15, 000 in some markets, while the government-owned Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) sells 50kg bag at K5, 500.
In a statement issued on Sunday and made available to Nyasa Times, Kapito who is also executive director for Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) said the current food shortage has contributed to the high cost of living among Malawians.
“This is the worst ever recorded scarcity of maize and higher prices since Malawi embraced the subsidized agricultural farm input production of maize,” said Kapito.
Kapito added: “What is shocking, though, is the failure by the government to have no strategies to deal with the current hunger crisis affecting many Malawians. The government is clueless, reactive
and helpless to find solutions that will address the current food shortages and higher prices of maize”.
The outspoken Kapito bemoaned what he described as ‘contradicting and abusive’ statements from government justifying and clarifying the hunger situation.
He even highlighted comments from some cabinet ministers who have been quoted in the media requesting Malawians to have a single meal a day and a need for the country’s central hospitals go into maize production outside their core mandate.
“We are also shocked that government continues with its message that no one will die of hunger when information out there indicates that most Malawians are now dying of hunger”.
He then questioned government’s insistence to continue using Admarc markets as central maize distribution points, arguing the grain marketer has proved for years to be ineffective and corrupt in the supply and distribution of maize to the general public.
Kapito has since called on government to release enough stocks of maize onto the market with immediate effect.
He has also demanded government to identify other strategic distribution channels other than Admarc for the selling of maize with immediate effect.
“Government should force all private traders hoarding maize to release such maize onto the market within seven days and that the maize must be sold at government recommended prices”.
He, however, warned government from politicizing the current hunger crisis facing the country where the most vulnerable are women and children.
An assessment by government last year indicated that about 2.8 million will experience food shortage and need assistance.
Currently, the food shortage situation is worsening in the country and people are spending nights at Admarc depots just to access the grain which are only allowed to buy a minimum of 20kgs per individual.
There are growing reports that Admarc is running short of maize supply and that some of its officials are conniving and selling the grain to vendors in bulks thereby creating shortage.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :