President Lazarus Chakwera has said Malawi is food secure and called for better prices for farm produce to ensure growers benefit from their investment.
He said this on Tuesday when he addressed a development rally at Tembwe Primary School in Traditional Authority Mlonyeni in Mchinji, allaying fears of possible hunger this year.
Said Chakwera: “I would like to assure you that although some farmers did not harvest adequately, there is sufficient food in this country.
“There should be no one instilling fear of hunger amongst Malawians. Indeed we are facing economic challenges, but amidst the challenges, we should have hope for the future.”
The President had earlier toured National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) at Kanengo in Lilongwe to appreciate its state of readiness ahead of procurement and storage of this year’s maize yield.
He also toured Tembwe Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) Depot in Mchinji to appreciate the status of farm produce marketing.
This year’s first round crop production estimates projected a downward production of maize from 4.5 million metric tonnes last year to 3.8 million metric tonnes this year.
But Chakwera said his government has in place the right distribution systems and policies to systemically move the grain to every household when need arises.
Justifying his visit to NFRA and Admarc, the President said he needed to have a complete picture of the status of the maize crop in storage facilities, after his recent crop inspection tours.
He said while appreciating the current status of the country’s strategic grain reserves, he also learnt of the financial and administrative challenges affecting operations of NFRA.
Said Chakwera: “I firmly believe that post-harvest storage remains a key component in the food ecosystem. This informs my administration’s policy priorities in investing adequately towards NFRA’s operations to ensure that we are not only producing enough food, but storing it well at the same time.”
In an interview, NFRA chief executive officer Brenda Masanza Kayongo said they are ready to procure 50 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize with the K12 billion allocation in the 2022/23 National Budget.
Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) projects that the 2021/22 national crop production will be 10 to 25 percent below average and that the largest deficits are expected in the Southern Region.
In its February to September 2022 Malawi Food Security Outlook report, Fewsnet attributed the projected drop to crop damage caused by floods induced by Tropical Storm Ana in January 2022 and delayed onset of the rains.