Malawi: Paper Says 'Embarrasing' That 3.3 Million People Food Insecure As Malawi Maize Output Down

Malawi is requesting for maize in the wake of a severe food shortage following decreased production of the country's staple food, maize by 24.5% (file photo).
28 August 2018

Malawi's leading daily newspaper has passed its verding that food insecurity report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) is "embarrasing" following decreased production of the country's staple food, maize by 24.5 percent.

The decreased food production is attributed to damage caused by drought , crop-eating armyworms and reduction in hectrage due to price disincentives.

The MVAC comprised of government and aid agencies, said in the report that maize production fell to 2.698 million tonnes from 3.464 million tonnes in the 2016/17 farming season.

Ethel Mwalughali, a government representative on MVAC said the dry spells mostly in the southern part of Malawi and some districts in the central region affected most key crops, including rice production.

MVAC said the drop in maize production had led to food insecurity for 3.3 million people, who would require 138,488 tonnes of food aid.

In an editorial comment in The Nation on Tuesday, the newspaper pointed out that the undesirable situation comes against the background that this year alone Malawi government spent about K46 billion for the Fram Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) that seeks to boost food production among poor hoseholds.

It noted that 1.5 million households benefitted from the programme this year from 900 0000 families the previous two years.

"The programme has been running for many years. This is embarrassing for a country that has been independent for 54 years, with arable land and huge bodies of water to improve irrigation programmes," reads th comment in part.

The food insecurity, according to the paper, is enough proof that Fisp is a flop largely because the programme is politicised and mostly benefits suppliers, particulary those who are politically connected.

The paper said the relief maize that will be distributed should go only to areas which are food insecure and not to areas where there is no hunger for political reasons.

Malawi relies heavily on rain-fed agriculture, and most of its maize is grown on small plots by subsistence farmers.

But the daily said there is also need to reduce overdependence on rain-fed farming.

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