Maize: Expert says high prices worrying

Tamani Nkhono-Mvula Malawi

An agriculture expert has urged Malawi Government to distribute maize to all parts of the country in order to control the worrying increase in maize prices.

This comes amidst high maize prices on the market making most Malawians vulnerable to hunger.

According to a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), maize prices on Malawian markets are higher compared to other countries in Southern Africa. In many areas in Malawi, Malawi, Maize is being sold at over K1000 per kilogram. The government in March this year set the price of maize at K500 per kilogram.

Nkhono expressed worry over the current maize prices saying it is too early for Malawians to be experiencing high maize prices as August is a month close to harvesting period.

“The country is in a very challenging situation as it is not expected that the country should be in hunger crisis in the month of August as it is closer to the harvesting time and experiencing this now one would wonder what will happen in the months to come up to the next harvest,” he said.

Nkhono Mvula said government need to source maize locally or import from other countries.

“We are glad that currently government is working with institutions like National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and Agriculture Development Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) to ensure that distribution of maize in some parts of the country is being done, I believe this will increase the supply of maize on the market thereby ensuring reduced maize prices,” he said.

On reports that some Malawians are surviving on yams as they cannot afford to buy the staple food, Nkhono Mvula stated that relying on yams shouldn’t be seen as a sign of hunger in the country.

He said: “Surviving on yams must not be looked at as a sign of hunger. Of course in a country like Malawi we are used to maize. It’s time we see it as a form of diversification and these are some of the crops that need to be promoted as an alternative to maize.”

The Agriculture Specialist also urged government to find ways to diversify and bring in new systems that can deal with the current hunger situation once and for all.

“As a country we need to make sure that we have done a proper soul searching in terms of what causes hunger in this country. I have noted that one of the challenges is that we are failing to diversify our production systems as we are only relying on same systems that worked 10 or 20 years ago and still believing it can work today,” said Mvula.

He added that if the country is to continue providing subsidised farm inputs, farmers relying on rain fed agriculture, then the country may continue experiencing hunger.

“The country is relying on the subsidy programme which is not bad but if the subsidy programme is being used on rain fed agriculture, I think the results are obvious, as in the case of drought or a cyclone it will lead to the loss of the inputs then the result is hunger,” said Nkhono Mvula.