Malawi’s Strategic Grain Reserves (SGR) are almost completely been drawn down calling for government to replenish the stocks through local purchases or importation in case of unforeseeable humanitarian needs.
According to April 2014 Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet), the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has almost no maize grain stocks in the SGR because all of the stocks were used for last year’s humanitarian food assistance programme.
The Fewsnet report indicates that at the start of the new consumption period which started in April opening SGR stocks will be less than 10 000 metric tonnes against the recommended 60 000 metric tonnes because supplies were used for earlier food assistance programming and to stock Admarc markets.
NFRA would not be available for comment on status of the SGR and their strategies to replenish the stocks of the staple.
However, the network in the report added that restocking will be necessary through an open bid process.
“The government of Malawi will need to procure adequate stocks to replenish the SGR and prepare for any possible humanitarian food intervention in the future,” reads the April report in part.
But reports indicate that some parts of the country experienced localised dry spells in parts of Karonga, Lilongwe, Balaka, Dedza, Ntcheu, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Neno, Blantyre and Mulanje for two weeks when the staple was at the critical tasseling and grain filling stages.
Analysts have so far feared that the dry spells might affect the total maize output.
The annual food security assessment will be conducted by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) in June in areas where the season performed poorly to determine the number of people likely to face acute food insecurity.
Unofficial data suggest that the harvest will be adequate enough to meet national maize consumption needs.
However, Fewsnet indicates that food will be available at household level up to September except in parts of Karonga.
According to authorities second round of crop estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture have been completed but official figures have not been released yet.
Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security spokesperson Sarah Chowa in a telephone interview on Wednesday said they were going to release the estimates on Thursday.
However, preliminary results indicate that the 2013/14 national rain fed maize production is estimated at four million metric tonnes. The country requires about 2.6 million tonnes of maize.
Last year, Malawi government projected a maize surplus of 740 000 metric tonnes.
In 2012 the country harvested 3.6 million metric tonnes in 2011 Malawi harvested 3.6 million metric tonnes.