Malawi starts receiving maize from Zambia to mitigate food shortage , says Minister Chaponda

Malawi government has started receiving part of the 100,000 metric tonnes of maize expected from the Zambian government.

Chaponda:We are not receiving maize from Zambia
Chaponda:We are receiving maize from Zambia

Agriculture Minister George Chaponda confirmed in a telephone interview with Nyasa Times on Wednesday afternoon despite being reluctant to grant this reporter an interview.

He argued that on-line publications are involved writing stories that are painting a bad picture of him.

However,  Chaponda went on to comment on the matter.

“Yes I can confirm the maize is coming in,” briefly said Chaponda before hanging up the phone.

The Zambian government also confirmed to have started moving the grain to Malawi at a news conference held in Lusaka on Tuesday.

Zambia’s Agriculture Ministry Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa told the news conference that the maize exported to Malawi will help to alleviate the situation of hunger the country is facing.

He also announced that the Zambian government will soon lift the Maize export ban to private traders possibly in January 2017.

Zambia Food Reserve Agency currently has about 280,000 metric tonnes of maize and is looking forward to add extra 220,000 metric tonnes before lifting the export ban.

In Malawi, citizens are still finding it had to purchase the staple food following the decision by the government to hike prices.

While directing the Admarc depots be opened weeks ago, Malawi President Arthur Peter
Mutharika also ordered that the maize be sold at K250 per kilogram representing a 127% hike.

A 50 kilogram bag which was last year during the same period sold at K5,500 is now being sold at K12,500.

According to the President, over 2000 metric tonnes of maize is now in stock at the National food Reserve Agency (NFRA) ready to be distributed to the estimated 6.5 million Malawians to be affected by hunger following last year’s poor rains that rendered Malawi food insufficient.

Mutharika made the remarks during the launch of a water pumping project in Mulanje that is expected to get water from Likhubula River to Blantyre and other surrounding areas.

“Let me reassure everyone that no one will die of hunger under my leadership. Currently we have stocked enough maize through NFRA to be distributed for free to those in need together with relish, salt and cooking oil through this tough period,” he explained.

The president said currently, maize is available at ADMARC depots and is being sold at a retail price to Malawians that can afford.

He called for integrity among officers involved in food distribution saying there is need for the food to reach the right people on time.

Over 6.5 million Malawians are facing acute food shortage.

The government which had about 90,000 metric tonnes of maize at its National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) is receiving support from various international humanitarian bodies including United Satates Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Bank through the World Food Programme (WFP).

As the admarc markets were being opened, Malawi had about 100,000 tonnes of maize already in stock at various Admarc selling points ready for sale out of the required 400,000 metric tonnes.

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