Malawi and Mozambique are expected to face severe food shortage following drought and floods which affected some parts of the two countries and they plan to extend a begging bowl to Zambia.
President Peter Mutharika and his Mozambican counterpart Felipe Nyusi, speaking after the first-ever trilateral talks involving the three Southern African Development Community (Sadc) States in Lilongwe on Monday, said they would need additional grain from other markets considering the reduced requirement for maize and wheat.
Mutharika said Malawi expects to import 1.2 million metric tonnes (MT) of maize in addition to local procurement through State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation Admarc) to feed about three million people who will need food aid.
Two weeks ago, Mutharika declared a State of National Disaster in the country following a bleak outlook in the second round of crop estimates which indicated that the harvest would be 20 percent below the national requirement.
The estimates have indicated an output of 2.4 million MT from 2.776 million MT in the previous season but the maize requirement for human consumption, seed, stock will come up with means of improving their conditions.”
Nyusi’s admission is in sharp contrast to remarks of officials from the Mozambican government that are on record as having dismissed reports of refugees crossing the border, arguing they were Malawians.
In recent months, Malawi has seen an influx of Mozambicans fleeing their country due to fighting between the governing Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) and Mozambique National Resistance Movement (Renamo) militias of opposition leader Alfonso Dhlakama.
Zambia has also been affected by the refugee crisis in Mozambique as some have crossed into its territory.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has put the number of Mozambican asylum seekers in Malawi at 10 000-plus. They have since been relocated from Kapise Transit Centre in Mwanza to Luwani Refugee Camp in Neno.
Luwani camp previously hosted Mozambican refuges during the 1976 to 1992 civil war, but was closed in 2007. Malawi is also host to about 25 000 refugees and asylum seekers at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa.