An investment and portfolio management firm has cautioned farmers to prudently manage the maize to be harvested this season and resist the temptation to sell it off if hunger is to be averted.
The warning comes amid reports that some traders have infiltrated remote areas which are promising a better maize harvest and are already buying it.
In its weekly market update, Alliance Capital Limited said there is danger in what vendors are doing as it may lead to hoarding of maize during the lean season and implored the government to take decisive action.
The portfolio managers argue that the practice could create an artificial scarcity of maize on the market and pile pressure on the average price of other goods and services, hence inducing inflationary pressures.
“While we are aware that in the current context of liberalisation of the market since 1990s that government cannot do much to stop private maize traders to participate in the market, one report of maize vendors flooding maize fields to buy raw maize is enough to compel government to take appropriate action,” reads the update.
Malawi is reeling from the combined effects of floods and drought the country experienced last year which culminated in a fall of maize production by 30 percent and resulted in maize shortage never experienced in 10 years.
But commenting on possible food shortage after harvest, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe is on record saying government plans to double food production by rehabilitating irrigation schemes to enable farmers to grow crops twice a year regardless of weather conditions.
“It is intended that this programme be supplemented by large estates that have agreed to produce irrigated food crops which the government could buy and Admarc could sell at subsidised prices. The 2016/17 budget will carry the needed funds for this programme,” he said.
It is estimated that 2.8 million people in the country will this year face hunger according the World Food Programme.