Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Principal Secretary Grey Nyandule Phiri says government is assessing farmers who applied for contracts to provide maize to stock up Strategic Grain Reserves (SGRs).
Early last month, government announced plans to venture into contract farming with farmers, both subsistence and commercial, to restock the SGRs. Government plans to buy 100 000 tonnes of maize under contract farming for the 2019/20 growing season.
Said Phiri in an interview yesterday: “The aim is for us to have enough. I cannot tell you how much is in the SGRs, that is for National Food Reserve Agency [NFRA] to say. So, we will wait for the proceeds of this season, but we are assessing those who expressed interest to be on contract. So, this maize will be for 2020/21.”
Large-scale farmers will get 60 percent of the contracts while the rest will go to cooperatives. Government will buy maize at K150 per kilogramme.
Last month, Phiri said engaging farmers in contract farming is a brilliant idea which will keep the SGRs full and ensure food sufficiency in the country.
The third round Agriculture Production Estimates Survey (Apes) indicate that maize production is at 3 391 924 metric tonnes (MT), representing 24.7 percent increase when compared to the 2017/18 final round estimate of 2 697 959 MT.
According to the country’s SGR guidelines, it is recommended that the SGR size should be 217 000 tonnes, which comprises 95 000 tonnes buffer stock, 8 000 tonnes emergency stock, 76 000 tonnes safety net stock for non-emergency response and 38 000 tonnes stabilisation stock.
But when contacted tosay how much the country has in the SGRs, NFRA chief executive officer (CEO) Nasinuku Saukira declined to answer, saying he was at a funeral.
Efforts to talk to his deputy Gerald Viola proved futile as his phone went unanswered.
The latest Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) shows there will be more food insecure people this year, with the figure rising from 1 062 674 in May last year to 1 879 39 this year.
Following the projection, Departments of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) facilitated the development of the 2019/20 Lean Season Food Insecurity Response Plan(LS-Firp) to mobilise resources, coordinate and guide the implementation of humanitarian assistance towards the affected people.
Currently, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) says they have already taken some maize from SGRs, but denied to say how much is in stock.
Admarc acting CEO Felix Jumbe said he could not disclose how much is in stock in the SGRs as it is an issue of national security. “I cannot disclose national figures at the grain reserve, but just know that we were given 4 000 MT to distribute and also have been given 3 000 MT to supplement the food insecure Malawians,” he said.