The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) says it is yet to assess the quantity of maize reported to have gone bad while in storage in silos across Malawi.
NFRA chief executive officer Nasimuko Saukira said the agency will go public on the development after the assessment.
A surprise visit on Monday by Vice-President Khumbo Kachali to the NFRA silos at Kanengo in Lilongwe confirmed that a substantial amount of maize in the silos has gone bad.
But both Kachali and Saukira declined to comment on the rotten grain.
“Give us time because we need to make an assessment of the situation,” was all Saukira could say when asked to give details of the rotten maize.
On the other hand, Kachali said: “All I can tell you is that I was interested in the maize that is edible. As for the discoloured maize, that was not the intention of my visit, my intention was to ensure that the maize which is meant for Admarc is being loaded and dispatched to various depots across the country.”
At the weekend, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Peter Mwanza told journalists that a large part of the maize has gone bad after it was soaked by rain water in the silos.
But Mwanza said the situation was not hopeless because the maize can still be consumed.
A recent assessment report of the grain reserves across the country done by donors, led by the Usaid, revealed that almost 4 821 metric tonnes of maize was not in good condition. Out of that quantity, 2 910.96 metric tonnes was characterised as dust and chaff whereas 410.5 metric tonnes was classified as having high aflatoxin levels and almost 1 500 metric tonnes was found to be no longer of use as it has been in the silos for too long or has been too dry for consumption.
The shortage in Admarc depots has pushed up prices offered by private traders who are selling a 50 kilogramme bag of maize at between K10 000 and K12 000. A 50 kg bag at Admarc costs around K3 000, but the State produce trader has been rationing, in some cases, 10 kg per person.
Giving an update, Saukira said so far, there is 58 840 metric tons of maize in five of the seven storage facilities across the country.
He said out of this maize, about 48 554 metric tonnes is at Kanengo silos in Lilongwe and Mzuzu has 8 897 while Limbe and Bangula warehouses have no maize.