With two million Malawians already facing severe starvation due to poor crop harvests this year, paramount chief Kyungu of Karonga has urged Malawi government to rescue the situation in his district by curbing the smuggling of rice to neighboring Tanzania and Zambia.
Karonga is one of the country’s largest producers of rice, thanks to its geographical position as a lakeshore district.
The rice farming has created jobs and opportunities to most inhabitants. However, the top quality Kilombero rice has been discovered as lucrative business across the borders and according to Kyungu the traders are finding it easier to smuggle the commodity to neighboring Tanzania for huge profits leaving behind a catastrophic situation back home.
This, according to Kyungu has attributed to the worsening hunger situation that has left thousands of families without food.
Apart from rice smuggling, Kyungu further told Nyasa Times after meeting senior presidential aide Rev. Malani Mtonga, that the hunger situation has also worsened by low beneficiaries of subsidized fertilizer and floods that hit the district every raining season.
“My people are starving in a land of plenty because somewhere large quantities of rice they produce are being smuggled to Tanzania by traders. As if that is not enough, the number of beneficiaries of the coupons for fertilizer subsidy is way on the lower side compared to the population. The district has been faced with perennial natural disaster that has resulted in severe flooding.
“But if government was to intervene especially on the smuggling of rice then things would have improved. That coupled by accessibility of coupons and relief items then the district will be free from hunger,” explained Kyungu.
On his part, Rev. Mtonga who was sent by President Mrs. Joyce Banda to distribute about 2000 bags of maize to the affected families especially orphans and the elderly, promised the powerful paramount chief Kyungu that government would put in place measures to control the smuggling of rice.
“On the smuggling of rice since it’s a policy issue I will have to report it to the president. But as for the coupons issue that will be addressed as soon as possible. The President is deeply touched to hear that even in Karonga and Chitipa hunger has taken its toll that is why she sourced funds to buy the maize we are distributing countrywide.
“It has to be explained that the president is just complementing what her government is already doing by distributing relief items to hunger stricken families through the disaster management and preparedness department. We also have to recognize the role other non-state actors are doing in addressing the hunger situation,” said Rev. Mtonga.
Among the areas that have benefited from the presidential initiative include; Mlowe, Wansambo, Chiweta, Mwilang’ombe, Lupembe, Uliwa and Chilumba.
Meanwhile, the Malawi government has stepped in to clarify that the initial figures of those affected are not 1.6 million people as earlier reported rather its two million.
The hunger situation in Malawi has taken many including the international community by big surprise as the previous regime led by late Bingu wa Mutharika used to boast that Malawi has enough maize reserves at its disposal to feed her people for at least next three years.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :