Malawi MPs to inspect grain reserves

Worried with growing reports that Malawi has run out of maize, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources plans to physically inspect all the country’s grain reserves to assess the stock.

The development comes amid reports that the country will not manage to feed itself up to next harvest because the red light has already started flashing in all the country’s grain reserves.

The fears have further been exacerbated with the rationing of maize, the country’s staple food, by ADMARC, a government agency responsible for maize marketing.

Dzoole Mwale: Hunger is becoming increasingly common in Malawi

But ADMARC and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Peter Mwanza have both parried the fears away claiming the rationing was not an indication that the country had no maize but rather was a control measure on the market.

A bag of maize is 50kg but with the rationing, ADMARC now allows each customer to buy a maximum of 25kg which can only take a family of six utmost 10 days to finish.

Hunger increasingly common

In its Malawi Food Security Outlook October 2011-March 2012, the Famine Early Warning System Network’s (FEWS NET) observed that over 200,000 people in Malawi were in need of food assistance but government was yet to start mobilizing an estimated 4 800 metric tonnes food assistance.

A member of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vitus Dzoole Mwale said the committee will embark on the physical check of all grain reserves in the country to have a true reflection of the situation.

“There are fears that our reserves have run out of maize so we want to inspect and assess the situation. Right now we are just waiting for funding from government before we embark on the exercise,” said Dzoole Mwale, Lilongwe Msozi South Member of Parliament for the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Commenting on the rationing of maize by ADMARC, Dzoole Mwale said that could be a sign that indeed the country has run out of maize.

“Probably that could be an indicator that there is an impending hunger in the country. If there is enough maize as claimed by ADMARC why then rationing maize?” queried Dzoole Mwale.

He also lambasted the government agency for hiking the maize price from K2000 per 50kg bag to K3000.

“That is very unfortunate, maize is the country’s staple food and very important in our lives and by raising the market price government is denying Malawians their right to food,” he said.

Recently, the President Bingu wa Mutharika administration sold the much-needed maize to South Sudan and also exported some to Zimbabwe and Kenya amid reports that 10 districts which include Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Balaka, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno, Phalombe, Zomba, and Ntcheu were likely to face hunger.

South Sudan Minister of Investment, Commerce and Industry, Garanga Diig Akuong confirmed that they were importing about 300 000 bags of maize from Malawi.

Nyasa Times learnt that Malawi also exported over 60,000 metric tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe.

The world recently hailed Malawi as the “miracle” of Africa and a role model for other countries after it managed to turn itself around and started producing enough maize to fulfill the national requirements in 2006 and 2007.

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