A recent report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) report has indicated that informal maize imports to Malawi from Mozambique and Zambia stand at 21 percent.
According to Fewsnet Malawi Food Security Outlook for December 2015, normally, informal imports are supposed to be showing a downward trend during this period.
During the 2015/16 season, confirmed official reports from the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) indicated that it bought over 22 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize at K2.6 billion (about $ 4.4 million) locally and imported 30 000 MT at K2.8 billion (about $ 4.7 million).
Last month, the State produce trader said it needed about 18 000 MT of maize worth K2 billion (about $3.4 million) to avert shortages between now and the next harvest in April.
“Between October and November, informal maize imports from Mozambique and Zambia increased atypically by about 21 percent.
“Normally, informal imports show a downward trend during this period. These atypically high informal imports are most likely due to Malawi’s maize deficit this marketing year. Nonetheless, these informal imports are not substantial enough to fill the national maize deficit of approximately 360 000 MT,” reads Fewsnet report in part.
The report warns, however, that the delay of the season will likely extend the lean period by about one month.
“These delays will likely extend the period in which food insecure households will require humanitarian assistance. It is also possible that a later-than-normal harvest will contribute to continued high food prices in March/April, which is usually the period when food prices begin to decline,” reads the report.
In an earlier interview, Civil Society Agricultural Network (CisaNet) national coordinator Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said the country must deal with post harvest losses and diversify to other food crops as one way of handling seasonal lean period.
He encouraged Malawians to diversify to other food crops such as cassava whose harvests can be delayed. n