The Donor Committee on Agriculture and Food Security (Dcafs) has warned the Malawi Government to take precautionary measures in handling the humanitarian crises currently at 6.5 million.
In his remarks during a recent Agriculture Sector Joint Review Meeting, Dcafs chairperson Nikolas Bosscher said despite Malawi Government allocating K35.5 billion for food purchases in the fiscal year starting July 1 2016, the requirement for humanitarian operations could be higher.
He said: “Given the financial constraint, we request the government to provide the necessary leadership for ensuring that National Food Reserve Agency [NFRA] and Admarc [Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation] make optimal use of the scarce public resources and collaborate fully with all humanitarian response actors.”
Malawi is reeling from the impact of the El Nino weather phenomenon whose combined prolonged dry spells and floods in some areas reduced food production with a rapid assessment by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimating that 8.4 million will be affected by food shortage.
Bosscher said buying maize now would be advantageous as the prices are lower.
He noted that a combination of export bans and unpredictable government market intervention make Malawi’s maize prices the most volatile in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region.
Said Bosscher: “In fact recent studies reveal that the combination of Farm Input Subsidy Programme [Fisp], export bans and discretionary market interventions, depress farm gate prices and inhibit the incentive to invest in maize, as a result very little maize in Malawi is produced for commercial purposes in a country where 85 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture for their income and well-being, we conclude that the situation is impeding national prosperity.”
In response, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda indicated that government has begun sourcing maize from neighbouring and other countries while Admarc is also buying produce from farmers for stocking and resale.
He said Malawi would emerge from the situation and become food secure again.
Yesterday, our sister newspaper Nation on Sunday reported that the number of people in need of total humanitarian assistance stands at 6.5 million of the projected 8.4 million facing food shortage.