Malawian government officials in Zambia to buy maize – report

A group of senior Malawi Government officials is in the Zambian capital Lusaka to reportedly buy maize from that government, according to online media reports.

Zambian Watchdog  quoting unnamed government sources reported that the Malawian officials arrived in that country over the weekend and were accommodated at one of the most expensive Zambian hotels, Pamodzi where the meetings with their Zambian counterparts had been taking place.

Particulars of the Malawian delegation remained ‘guarded’ but Nyasa Times sources said the delegation has officials from the Ministries of Agriculture and Food Security and Foreign Affairs and the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).

Meanwhile, the popular Zambian online media says President Michael Sata has authorized and directed the sale of more than 50,000 metric tonnes of white maize to Malawi.

President Sata with Malawi's President Banda: Help each other
President Sata with Malawi’s President Banda: Help each other

However, the online newspaper writes that despite authorising the sale, Zambian government officials and other technocrats vehemently objected to the decision because the country does also not have enough stock for its people.

“Zambian government officials and technocrats objected to the sale because there was not enough maize stock in the country for the Zambian population.

“But what the Zambian government officials did not know is the Mr. Sata had already concluded the deal with Malawian president Joyce Banda.

“When the Zambian government officials refused, the Malawian delegation called their president who also called Mr. Sata to remind him about the deal.

“President Sata then called the Zambian delegation and ordered them to allow the Malawian government to purchase the maize,” writes Zambia Watchdog.

Recently, the Zambian Government through its Food Reserve Agency (FRA) also signed a contract with the Tanzania National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to supply them 20, 000 metric tonnes of white maize valued at US$7million.

Malawi is currently facing critical shortage of maize, its staple food, which has resulted in escalating prices.

A 50kg bag of maize, which a few months was going a about K5000, is now fetching between K10000 and K12000 in urban centres.

Hundreds of hunger-stricken Malawians, particularly women with babies at their backs, have been spending days and nights on queues at state grain marketer, ADMARC selling depots, to purchase the commodity, which has also been rationed to 10kg per individual.

In its position paper on the country’s hunger situation released last week, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) called on government to immediately act on the hunger situation in the country.

The network recommended to government to issue a ministerial statement to state the situation of the grain reserves and also outline the gravity of the hunger situation and what it was doing about it.

It also recommended to government to issue instructions to ADMARC to immediately stop rationing maize to only 10kgs and increase the ration to at least 25kgs.

“It is a pity to see that people with meager resources are travelling long distances and even paying more on transport than the food they are buying. This practice is deplorable and should be discouraged. We request government to embark on restocking ADMARC markets that have no maize especially those that are in the rural areas,” said CISANET.

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