Malawi has started selling much-needed maize to South Sudan and also exporting some to Zimbabwe and Kenya despites reports that about 10 districts in the country will face starvation due to dry spells.
South Sudan Minister of Investment, Commerce and Industry, Garanga Diig Akuong confirmed that they are importing maize from Malawi to pre-empt a looming food crisis that could reach Horn of Africa proportions.
He said South Sudan has “managed to mobilise about three hundred thousand bags of maize from Malawi and this will reduce the prices of food.”
Nyasa Times learnt that Malawi has so far exported over 60,000 metric tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe but Malawi has not received payments yet.
This development comes at a time when a Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) estimates that ten out of the country’s 28 districts will be at risk of food shortage due to dry spells that occurred at critical phases of crop development and maturity during the 2010/2011 crop growing season.
MVAC conducted its annual vulnerability assessment and analysis in May 2011 and found that despite high production of maize at national level, there are localized food deficit areas, mostly in the southern parts of Malawi. The districts are Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Balaka, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno ,Phalombe, Zomba, and Ntcheu.
The committee warns that “the affected population will require support at different periods of the consumption year ranging from December 2011 to February 2012.”
Reports indicate that the current food situation in Malawi has been compounded by the smuggling of maize to starvation hit east Africa.
Other reasons that aggravate the hunger situation include the selling of governments farm input subsidies to improve on the farming families’ income with the intention to but other pressing household basic necessities.