News / Africa

Malawi Grapples With Food Shortages

Maize rationing has forced private traders like these women to increase their prices, Karonga, Malawi. (Tiwonge Kumwenda/VOA)
Maize rationing has forced private traders like these women to increase their prices, Karonga, Malawi. (Tiwonge Kumwenda/VOA)
Lameck Masina
Malawi’s government is trying to ease the impact of a food shortage by rationing the country's staple crop, maize. The move has sparked a steep increase in the price of maize on the parallel market.
 
The latest report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee indicates that nearly two million of Malawi’s 13 million people are facing hunger because of prolonged dry spells, flooding and low yields of maize.

The committee, which includes government departments, the United Nations, embassies and humanitarian agencies, says poor households from the worst-hit districts will face a food shortage until the next harvest season begins in April.

The situation is compounded by rationing recently put in place by government’s main grain marketer, the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation, which is limiting maize sales to 10 kilograms per customer.

In his capacity as deputy minister of agriculture before he was given a new portfolio last weekend, Ulemu Chilapondwa said the move is meant to protect the poor from vendors who are selling the grain at an exorbitant price.

“If you can actually check person by person, you can find that very few people can manage more than 10 kilograms, but vendors can manage, so the aim of the government is to serve the poor.”

But the consumer rights body, Consumers Association of Malawi, says the rationing further aggravates hunger among average Malawians, in part because ADMARC makes people stand in long lines.

John Kapito, the group's executive director, says “We are saying that it becomes a bit difficult, because the families have to stay there for much longer time for them to get that 10 kilograms of maize. And when you consider the time they have wasted and the amount of maize they have collected there it does not make any sense.”

Mother of six, Christina Jere is a resident of Ndirande Township in the commercial capital Blantyre. 

"This is a big problem to us with big families, because the 10 kilograms lasts for two days and this is also impacting negatively of our day household chores, " Jere said. "We are spending time queuing for maize at the ADMARC depots, sometimes even returning home without buying just because of extraordinary long queues.”  

She also said that despite the rationing private traders have taken advantage of the maize shortage by selling the staple grain at double the prices sold in ADMARC depots.

Until last year, Malawi had registered several years of a maize surplus, following the introduction of a fertilizer subsidy program in 2005.

The country earned a reputation of being an African food producer after it sold about 40,000 metric tons of maize to Zimbabwe and donated 5,000 metric tons each to Lesotho and Swaziland.  But last week, media reports indicated nine people had died of hunger related illnesses in the central district of Dedza.

“I think there is something wrong which the government is doing because we know that somebody is keeping the maize," Kapito said. " The president can go to the rally and distributing 2,000 bags of maize, where is she is getting that maize?”

But Chilapondwa insists nothing is wrong, saying the country has enough maize to keep it going through the lean period.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brocherd from: Chirwabrocherd
January 29, 2014 2:14 PM
Selling the maize outside while the people are dying because of hunger, the government is doing very very wrong you can not think about your own people?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More