Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale has told Parliament that government is committed to addressing food security challenges to ensure that no person goes hungry.
Presenting a ministerial statement yesterday on food availability in the country, he stressed that the ministry was committed to effectively manage the strategic grain reserves (SGRs) and provide a buffer against unforeseen disruptions in the main supply chain.
Kawale said as of October 31 2023, the SGRs stocks stood at around 59 841 metric tonnes (MT) of maize.
He said: “The procurement process is continuing and more maize will be accumulated. In addition, the government has reached out to development partners and discussions are at an advanced stage for additional support of about $30 million [about K50 billion] under the contingency emergency response component.”
Kawale said maize prices in areas such as Chikwawa, Nkhotakota, Zomba and Nkhata Bay are between K700 and K883 per kilogramme, as such, the ministry will continue with price stabilisation efforts to ensure that people can access affordable maize.
He said government is also finalising the importation of about 30 000MT to beef up the local grain for the local markets as part of the grain restocking efforts.
But in his reaction, Mzimba South legislator Emmanuel Chambulanyina Jere (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) asked the minister to outline long-term plans considering that the country is always facing deficits in maize availability and distribution.
In response, Kawale said mega farms were Malawi’s way of addressing food shortages and that over 60 000 hectares has been registered for this and other farming activities.
“We want a lot of people farming and harvesting twice or three times a year. That is the future of food security in the country,” he said.
The minister said government has engaged the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources which is cultivating 110 hectares of maize while the Green Belt Authority (GBA) is cultivating on 300 hactares for both rainfed and irrigation farming. He also said Mpatsa Holdings, which is into crop production and irrigation, will cultivate another 1 000 hactares.
Phalombe North legislator Mavuto Bokosi (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) sought assurance that maize would be received in his and surrounding constituencies as they previously got only a quarter of the promised maize in their Admarc depots.
Kawale said government needs K1.8 billion and that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has assured of providing the funds afterwhich the ministry will be good to go.