Malawi

Malawi: Food security manager commends project-based grain banks

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Grain banks need to be introduced in most World Vision projects in Malawi to ensure that the rural poor have easy access to food and avoid the perennial food shortages, World Vision Malawi Food Security Manager Daniel Kanyerere has commented.
"What has been done by (World Vision United States-funded) Chingale and (World Vision Germany/Austria-funded) Mpanda ADPs (Area Development Programmes), in establishing grain banks, is very good. We need to go in this direction more because when you have grain in the ADP area, you have the advantage of not only avoiding starvation, but also of ensuring that the prices are affordable," he stated.

Mr. Kanyerere, however, expressed hope that communities served by World Vision projects would be cushioned from the effects of the perennial food shortage through many other interventions implemented by the largest NGO in the country. He pointed out that agricultural recovery interventions have seen many farmers bouncing back to various forms of food self-sufficiency or economic empowerment.

Meanwhile, in an update, Chingale ADP says it has collected and stored 45 metric tonnes of maize for farmers this year. The farmers were repaying a 30 metric tonne revolving food loan they obtained last year, in the face of Malawi's severest famine and at a time when they needed to work in their gardens.

"This maize will be kept and we will start selling it when the grain scarcity returns. We are not interested in making a profit, but we want to make sure that grain is available and that the people are well served through their grain bank," explained Chingale ADP acting Manager Maxwell Litafula this week.

Mpanda ADP's grain bank, introduced this year, has stored some 40 tonnes of maize. Mpanda ADP Manager Dorica Kusamale said recently that the move was, in part, to ensure that people are not exploited by shrewd city businessmen who used to buy grain from farmers in the ADP area at give-away prices before they later resold it at exorbitant prices.

"Apart from saving the farmers from exploitation, the ADP's grain bank will later sell the maize, at a minimal profit, during the lean months, from December to March, when prices tend to double. Those people who are poorest will be allowed to obtain the maize on credit, for repayment either in cash or kind after the next harvest season," Mrs. Kusamale stated.

She pointed out that the easy availability of the maize will also free the poor people from the tendency to work in the gardens or estates of wealthy people, who pay them exploitative wages or food rations. "We are determined to break the vicious cycle of poverty in our ADP and surrounding areas and we are happy that people are excited about, and own, the grain bank idea," she added.