President Peter Mutharika has appealed to development partners, local and international well-wishers to assist government in mobilising resources to feed 2.8 million Malawians facing starvation.
Malawi is facing one of its worst hunger situations in recent years following a 27.7 percent drop in the production of maize, the staple grain, due to combined effects of floods and drought earlier this year.
Mutharika, addressing a news conference at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe hours before departing for the United States of America (USA) for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, announced that government is set to roll out food relief to food-insecure households during the lean period from this October to March next year.
The President said a 2015/16 Food Insecurity Response Plan developed by government based on results of the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) Food Insecurity Assessment Exercise carried out between June 8 and July 2 this year requires $146.378 million (about K83.4 billion).
He said: “I would like to assure you that the Malawi Government is ready to support the 2.8 million people facing hunger. In the meantime, the government, using its own resources, has bought 30 000metric tonnes of maize from Zambia at a cost of K2.82 billion, and it is in the process of buying additional 26 000 metric tonnes, at a value of about K3.5 billion.”
The President said the maize being bought will be used to stabilise the price of the staple grain through State produce trader Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) markets nationwide.
Mutharika said Mvac is set to make another assessment in October which is likely set to reveal the traditional trend of a larger number of people facing hunger, hence his appeal to well-wishers to help contain the situation through Department of Disaster Management Affairs in the Office of Vice-President.
The President thanked donors and various well-wishers for responding to his appeal for assistance after he declared a state of national disaster on January 13 this year.
In the wake of the food deficit, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza told Parliament in May this year that government planned to buy 60 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize to replenish the strategic grain reserves (SGR) with K8 billion allocated for the exercise in the 2015/16 National Budget.
Malawi faces a maize shortfall of 124 183MT, according to Mutharika.
In August this year, National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) said it was buying 50 000MT through bid volume only (BVO)system on the Agriculture Commodity Exchange (ACE) and AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX) in Lilongwe. n