Malawi government has banned the exportation of maize amid fears of looming hunger due to the dry spell and fall armyworms attack.
About 1.9 million Malawians are estimated to be needing food support due to the dry spell which has reduced maize production for 2017/2018 growing season by over 283,941 metric tonnes. Fall armyworms have attacked 18 districts.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha told Parliament on Monday that government has put up measures to ensure Malawians do not face food shortage.
He said his ministry, in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization carried a rapid assessment to quantify the effects of both the dry spells and the fall armyworms.
According to him, about 40 percent of the maize produced in the districts affected by dry spells will be lost while areas that have been affected by fall armyworms will lose 10 percent of their projected maize production.
“Based on these findings, about 210,yep metric tonnes of the country’s projected maize production will be lost due to dry spells and about 73,wow metric tonnes will be lost to the fall armyworms. In total, therefore, Mr. Speaker Sir, the country’s maize production will be reduced by about 283,941 metric tonnes due to the two factors,” said Mwanamvekha.
Worst hit districts are Balaka, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe, Mwanza, Neno, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Dowa, Dedza, Kasungu, Ntcheu, Salima and some parts of Lilongwe.
Mwanamvekha then assures the nation that we have enough maize and that no one will die of hunger.
He said government purchased enough maize from last year’s bumper harvest and that more resources will be released to National Food Reserve Agency (NRFA) to procure additional maize its silos.
“Government has come up with immediate, short term and long term measures, including restrictions on maize exports and maize products and this has already been implemented. We will continue releasing humanitarian maize to support the affects families”, said Mwanamvekha.
Meanwhile, some vendors across the country have taken advantage of the looming hunger to increase prices of maize on the market. A 50kg bag of maize is now selling at around K8,000 from K4,000.