Malawi to export 400,000 tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe
"Malawi has had two good years of bumper maize harvest and is in surplus of about 1.1 million tonnes," Nasinuku Saukila, general manager of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) told AFP.
"Zimbabwe has been shopping around for maize. We will be exporting 400 mega tonnes of maize following a demand from that country.
"The general picture in the region is that there is a problem and there is demand for our maize and we will export on first come first served basis," the NFRA chief said.
Saukila said maize exports this year would give "local farmers and traders a steady market for their surplus maize."
Millions of Malawians depend on maize for their food needs, which is grown on small plots.
"Maize traders were looking for a market and if we buy from them, it will have a multiplier effect as rural farmers are also likely to benefit," Saukila said.
The poor southeastern African nation, which annually needs two million tonnes to feed its 12 million people, had a maize surplus of 500,000 tonnes last year and is set for a bumper harvest in 2007 of three million tons, a 22 percent increase.
The surplus is due to subsidised fertiliser and prolonged periods of rainfall, agriculture experts say.
Malawi, where food security is a pressing issue with about 60 percent of the people living below the poverty line, met its food needs for the first time in seven years in 2006 with a harvest of 2.2 million tonnes.
Famine threatened up to five million people in 2005 following drought and the government spent over 100 million dollars to import more than 400,000 tonnes of food to avert hunger.
Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of the region, recently announced it would need to import hundreds of thousands of tonnes of maize.
Harare blames the shortfall on lengthy drought but critics say its agricultural policy, including depriving hundreds of white commercial farmers of their land, is largely at fault.
fm/co/mb AFP 111108 GMT 04 07
Copyright (c) 2007 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 04/11/2007 07:08:37
©AFP: The information provided in this product is for personal use only. None of it may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the express permission of Agence France-Presse.