Government through the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) has released an annual food security assessment which shows that a minimum of 6.5 million people, or 39 percent of the country’s projected population of 16.8 million, will not be able to meet their annual food requirements during the 2016/17 consumption period.
This represents an increase of 129 percent compared with the corresponding figure of 2.8 million people for the 2015/16 consumption but lower than the maize consumption deficit of 790,000 metric tons affecting 8.4 million people, as reported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development based on the Second Round Crop Estimates released in April 2016.
Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani said in a statement released to the media which Nyasa Times has a copy, that the main difference between the two sets of figures arises from the fact that part of the maize consumption deficit relates to the consumption needs of those who can afford to procure it on the market, if available, without the need for humanitarian support.
“The MVAC figures exclude such consumption needs which are, nevertheless, a significant part of the Government’s overall intervention plans,” he says
The MVAV report says in order to ensure that the affected people survive up to the next harvest period without disrupting their socio-economic livelihoods, the total humanitarian food assistance that is required is estimated at the equivalent of 493,000 metric tonnes of maize, with an estimated cash value of MK148 billion.
“However, the estimated humanitarian food assistance declines to the equivalent of 375,000 metric tonnes of maize if we adjust for the fact that some of the affected people may sell their assets in order to acquire food.”
The cash value for the latter intervention option, which may reduce the future productive and disaster resilience capacities of the affected people, is estimated at MK113 billion,” reads the MVAC report in part.
The food shortage is largely a result of the El Nino climatic episode experienced across the country during the 2015/16 agricultural reason.
Since the declaration of a State of National Disaster by President Peter Mutharika, on 12 April 2016, the Government has been collaborating with its development partners to design various interventions in order to assist the affected population
. A comprehensive Government Humanitarian Response Plan will be finalised soon, taking into account the MVAC figures reported in the statement.
On its part, the Government has allocated the amount of MK35.5 billion for maize purchases in the 2016/17 Draft Budget, in addition to the expenditure being incurred in the current fiscal year for immediate relief.
Moreover, the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) has intensified the procurement of maize and other commodities, to ensure that they are available in all ADMARC selling points.
Minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda told parliament that to offset the huge maize deficit facing the country this year, government has laid out a plan to import about one million tonnes of white maize to fill the food gap
The Government has also intensified the promotion of irrigation programmes as one way of addressing household food deficits in some of the districts.
Prices for maize, the nation’s staple crop, have in recent months gone up more than 60 percent above the 3-year average for this time of the year, making it increasingly difficult for many people to buy food.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :