Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe during his 2017/18 Mid-Year Budget Statement to Parliament on Friday said there is no food shortage in the country as of now but government plans to purchase additional 200 000 metric tonnes (MT) grain in anticipation of hunger due to fall of armyworms and persistent dry spells that affected a good number of districts across the country.
“In discussing the current food situation, it must be borne in mind that as of now there is no food shortage in Malawi and that the calamitous effects of dry spells and the fall armyworms Malawi is experiencing could impact on the country much later. All that could be said now is that food shortages will occur in a number of areas in Malawi and that we should prepare measures to mitigate this likely food disaster,” said Gondwe.
He said government has set aside an undisclosed amount of funds to enable National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to purchase 200 000 MT of the grain.
The finance minister informed the House that there is 272 000 MT in the country’s food reserves, 90 000 MT that remained unsold by Admarc last season and 182 000 MT that was purchased locally by NFRA last year.
He further observed that 68 000 tonnes is estimated to be available around the country.
However, agriculture experts fear a repeat of what happened in 2016 when the authorities ended up importing 100 000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia basing on wrong estimates and former minister of agriculture George Chaponda is currently answering corruption charges over the the misprocuremeng of the grain.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development is yet to release the crop estimates.