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Malawi Group Say Private Sector Contributing to Food Shortages

In Malawi, a non-governmental organization specializing in good governance says free market policies are contributing to the country’s food shortages. The Malawi Economic Justice Network says traders are buying maize either from abroad or from the government at subsidized rates – and then selling it at prices that are too high for the poor.

About a third of Malawi’s 12 million people are said to be in need of food assistance – especially maize. Up to 80 percent of Malawians grow food, but this year their crops have been affected by the drought. And most earn less than one dollar per day, making it hard for them to buy food when their own crops have failed.

Mabvuto Bamusi is the acting director of the Malawi Economic Justice Network in Lilongwe. He told English to Africa reporter William Eagle the government needs to be more active in alleviating drought-induced food shortages and mitigating future ones, by, for example, subsidizing fertilizer, seed and other inputs to small farmers. It also needs to do more to develop irrigation for the country’s cultivatable lands – only two per cent of which are under irrigation.