Malawi’s donors have confirmed that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has enough maize stocks to meet the country’s immediate needs up to the next harvest season.
The confirmation follows an assessment and inspection of the maize storage silos across the country following doubts raised by several quarters on the maize situation in the facilities.
Speaking during a news conference on Tuesday, United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) mission director Doug Arbuckle said the assessment and inspection of the storage facilities—which was facilitated by a group of donors and led by pre-inspection firm SGS— found out that the reserves had the maize which NFRA has been saying that it had.
“At the beginning of the assessment, NFRA estimated that it held 86 415.98 metric tonnes. SGS reported that 81 575.63 metric tonnes of maize was verified as being present and fit for human consumption,” said Arbuckle, who is the current chairperson of the donors’ committee on Agriculture and Food Security.
He said the inspection found out that 2 910.96 metric tonnes was classified as dust and chaff, which could have formed through multiple years of storage whereas laboratory tests declared 410.5 metric tonnes as unfit for human consumption due to high aflatoxin levels and has been removed from the reserves.
He said so far, the donors have recommended that the inspection and assessment exercise should be an annual undertaking.
Many people have been skeptical about whether NFRA has enough maize stocks, with some critics arguing that the figures from NFRA were not correct.
NFRA chief executive officer Nasimuko Saukira said it was gratifying to note that the agency has been vindicated and described the assessment exercise as a new dawn in the management of the grain reserves.
He said: “This portrays that a government institution can at times be trusted because it is not easy to manage such a government company.”