Government has admitted that the number of people requiring food assistance until the start of the next harvest has risen from 6.5 million to 6.7 million.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda told journalists in Lilongwe yesterday during a press briefing to update the public on the food situation in the country.
The increased number follows a second Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report.
“After the first phase, it was discovered that 6.5 million people are food insecure, but recently Mvac conducted another study and discovered an additional 200 000 food insecure people,” said Chaponda.
However, Chaponda assured the nation that there is enough maize to take the country up to March next year.
According to Chaponda, a lot of progress has been made on mobilising resources for food purchases both for commercial and humanitarian response that will also carter for the additional 200 000 people.
The minister also pointed out that as of November 24 2016, the total maize stocks across the country were at 107 037 metric tonnes.
However, Chaponda said government purchases and donor commitments will amount to 300 000 metric tonnes which will be enough to cater for the affected population until March, 2017.
This is against the recommended estimate of 493 000 metric tonnes which government had projected.
“From July to October, about 3 million people, representing 525 289 households have been reached in 11 districts across the country and a total of 54 667 metric tonnes of food has been distributed since the response started,” Chaponda said.
Commenting on the issue, Right to Food executive director Billy Mayaya said the dire forecast reflects the dual pressure from natural calamities such as climate change and a total lack of commitment and preparedness on the part of government.
On Farm Input Subsidy Programme, the minister said the first consignment will arrive next week and distribution will commence immediately. n