To prevent the spread of a devastating Maize disease No Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN), authorities at Nkhata Bay Jetty have withheld 40 tonnes of maize which was being imported into Malawi from Tanzania.
According to a statement which was released by the Ministry of Agriculture through the Department Agricultural Research Services last year, Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) currently has no treatment and it is transmitted by planting maize grain with the virus and it can cause 100% yield loss.
Authorities at Nkhata-bay Jetty indicate that the cases of the disease is on the rise in countries like Tanzania and Kenya hence government’s directive to halt maize grain from being imported in t.he country.
Reports indicate that a Tanzanian trader was importing the maize into Malawi by boat.
In his remarks on the matter, Senior Deputy Director of Agriculture and Research Services in the Northern Region, Tonny Harris Maulana said they are exercising caution in a bid to protect the country from the maize disease.
“This consignment came through the jetty by boat from Tanzania and we told them that it cannot be sold as grain because people might be tempted to plant it in the process spreading the disease.
“Although we have not done tests in the laboratory but Tanzania announced that they have the disease in their country and this is a protective measure,” he said.
He added that they are doing whatever they can to make sure that maize is not imported into the country from the jetty warehouse where it is kept.
“Realizing that anything can happen along the road we have ordered them to mill the maize into flour or grit right here in Nkhata -Bay inorder for it not to be planted anywhere in Malawi,” he said.
He has, however, advised traders to abide by the Ministry of Agriculture’s directive and avoid importing grain from Tanzania in order for them not to face inconveniences like this.
Meanwhile, owner of the maize, Josophat Chingula from Mbeya in Tanzania said he was not aware of the ban on the importation of any maize grain from his country.