Malawi to export maize to Zimbabwe

The country has for the third year running registered another pumper maize harvest at 3.661 million tonnes- representing more than 1.461 million tonnes of excess requirement. Malawians need 2.2 million tonnes to satisfy their domestic maize requirement.

Agriculture and Food Security Principal Secretary, Andrew Daudi, has attributed such excessive production to the subsidized fertilizer programme and increased use of organic fertilizers by farmers.

Gondwe said Malawi would be duty-bound to export some of the maize excess to domestic requirements to Zimbabwe, where he said another hunger situation looms this year following poor harvests.

Zimbabwe, like Malawi, is a member state of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), which compels it and other member states to be the first line of call to fellow members in cases of national calamities including hunger.

“It is a very positive thing, and shows how committed this administration has been in many areas including economic development and food security. This year, we have again produced some hamper maize harvest part of which we may export to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has not harvested enough this year,” said Gondwe.

The Finance Minister did not elaborate on the actual figures that could be exported.

Analysts have linked the persistent food shortages in Zimbabwe to the seizure of white owned farms, a development they cite for leading to decreased crop productivity. The situation has prompted the World Food Programme to initiate various interventions in the bid to save people from starvation.

In a related development, Gondwe revealed that government was in the process of establishing a public food storage company whose main goal would be to provide extra space for crop storage.

Gondwe said, under the arrangement, people would be able to deposit their maize and other crops at the storage facilities for safe keeping, after which they will be getting a receipt.

“They will, then, be able to use the receipts (as evidence of property ownership) as collateral with commercial banks. But we are still discussing the modalities, which are at an advanced stage, and will announce the modalities later,” said Gondwe.
This follows concerns from some quarters, including the Council for Non-Governmental Organisation (Congoma) and the Malawi Economic Justice Network, who want the country to invest in food storage mechanisms because pumper crop yields end up rotting due to inadequate and poor storage facilities.

Congoma’s Executive Director, Ted Nandolo, for instance, claims that over half of last year’s bumper maize yield got lost through rotting, or couldn’t be properly stored due to lack of space and ended up catching moisture.

“We really feel that we need to invest in storage facilities for us to be able to retain our maize crop harvests. This problem creates problems for people and could be responsible for the reports of hunger we get from various communities when government maintains we still have maize stocks,” queried Nandolo. AfricaNews