Malawi will import 50,000 tonnes of the staple maize from Tanzania to avert hunger after a drought that affected 2.8 million people in the southern African nation, state officials said on Monday.
Agriculture is Malawi’s mainstay, accounting for a third of the economy and providing livelihoods for 80 percent of the population of about 15 million people.
“With the 30,000 tonnes coming in from Zambia, we expect to add on another 50,000 tonnes from Tanzania that we have authorised (state-owned grain marketing company) ADMARC to import,” Erica Maganga, the principal secretary in the ministry of agriculture told Reuters.
The United Nations World Food Programme this month extended the harvest period by another month to April because annual harvests will be delayed by the El Nino related drought. The lean period usually ends in March when farmers start harvesting.
The WFP said last week that Malawi needs $38 million to help the most vulnerable during the extended lean period.
But Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe told parliament last week that the 30,000 tonnes from neighbouring Zambia and the 50,000 to be imported from Tanzania will be enough to feed the affected population.
Meanwhile, Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe has said more maize will be available in most of its depots this week following the purchase of 30 000 metric tonnes of the grain from Zambia.
Mulumbe told journalists on Friday at Mwami Border Post in Mchinji when Admarc and government officials took delivery of 70 truck-loads of maizet hat the staple grain is expected to ease shortages being experienced in most parts of the country.
He said as of Friday, about 1 000 tonnes of maize was ready for distribution to Admarc depots.
According to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report, about 20 percent the population (about 2.8 million) are food insecure in 25 of the country’s 28 districts.–Additional reporting by Wanga Gwede, Nyasa Times