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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid