Treasury has released K12 billion to the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to buy 60 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize to restock the country’s strategic grain reserves.
NFRA board chairperson Denis Kalekeni on Thursday said in an interview that the agency has already received K3 billion and the remainder will be given in two chunks.
“The agency is currently finalising procurement processes, which include assessing farmers’ cooperatives expected to provide the maize to the agency,” he said.
NFRA plans to start restocking the strategic grain reserves between end June and early July this year.
Currently, the agency has 62 000MT of maize in its reserves which will bring the total to 122 000MT that Kalekeni said will be adequate to meet challenges Malawi may face in an event of food crisis.
In January this year, NFRA and State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) struck a deal that will see the latter stop delivering maize to strategic grain reserves.
Previously, Admarc used to buy maize on behalf of NFRA.
This year’s second round crop estimates showed that the country is expected to produce 3.8 million MT of maize against a national requirement of 3.4 million MT.
Last year, the country produced 4.5 million MT of maize.
However, a 2021/22 Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report estimated that about 1.7 million people in 28 districts and four cities would be food insecure during the lean season.
As a result, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) provided relief maize and cash to food-insecure families in January and February this year.
In some districts, beneficiaries received a bag of maize per month while others received a minimum of K18 000 per month.
This year, however, the food-security situation will likely be worsened by tropical storms Ana and Gombe that affected at least 14 districts in the country.