Some traders in Malawi are alleged to be illegally exporting maize to neighbouring Tanzania despite looming hunger in some parts of the country.
Investigations over two weeks have established that Tanzanian traders and transporters were freely buying the maize in the country and transporting it to Tanzania, passing through police roadblocks and Songwe border post in Karonga.
Local leaders in Mzimba and Rumphi, where most of the smuggled maize was bought, said before the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) opened its markets, Tanzanian traders had already bought maize, mostly along the M1 Road.
Minister of Trade and Industry John Bande expressed ignorance of the markets, saying government would have acted if it had information.
Mzimba districtÂ Â commissioner (DC) the Reverend Moses Chimphepo said the council was not aware of Tanzanians operating mini-markets in the district.
â€œWhen people buy maize, it is not easy to know who is a Tanzanian and who is a Malawian,â€ said Chimphepo.
However, Chimphepo contradicted what Senior Chief Mtwalo from Mzimba said. Mtwalo said Tanzanians publicly opened markets in many places in Mzimba, including Ekwendeni, Kafukule, Enukweni and Baula.
Rumphi DC Bester Mandele also denied existence of maize markets run by Tanzanians in the district.
However, Traditional Authority Mwankhunikira, who was the first to raise alarm on the issue, contradicted Mandele, saying even in Rumphi there were trading points.
During the commemoration of World Food Day, Minister of Agriculture Professor Peter Mwanza reiterated that government policy does not allow exportation of maize. He pledged to work with Home Affairs Ministry to arrest the situation.
Meanwhile, police have impounded six vehicles loaded with maize heading for Tanzania, Karonga Police Station spokesperson Enock Livason confirmed this week.