Months after reaching agreement with Harare, Malawi is finally beginning the export of 400,000 metric tonnes of maize worth some $120 million to Zimbabwe.
Malawian Deputy Agriculture Minister Binto Kutsaira said some 90,000 tons have been shipped amid controversy in Lilongwe over the payment terms extended to Harare.
Kutsaira declined to disclose where Zimbabwe was obtaining the funds for the grain deal, but other sources said some of the funding may be coming from the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, better known as PTA Bank. Malawi meanwhile has extended Harare a US$10 million working line of credit.
The full consignment is expected to be delivered over the next six months. The Malawi government has stated that its bumper 2007 harvest allowed it to export the grain.
Malawian Principal Secretary of Agriculture and Food Security Patrick Kabambe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Malawi has confidence in Zimbabwe's ability to pay - but exports will be stopped if Harare falls behind.
Despite the Malawian supplies, Deputy Director Nyika Musiyazvirivo of Christian Care, one of the World Food Program's main implementing partners in the distribution of aid to the country, said the infusion would not cover Zimbabwe's grain-supply shortfall.