Malawi has suspended the exportation of maize and maize products with immediate effect and has since nullified all licences that enable grain traders to export maize outside the country.
Ministry Commence and Industry announced the suspension on Wednesday following Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) estimates that 10 out of 28 districts are at risk of maize shortage between the months of December 2011 to February 2012.
Secretary of the Ministry of Commence and Industry Newby Kumwembe said all maize exportation licences had been declared null and void and called upon the Malawi Revenue Authority—a revenue collection body—to monitor the country's borders.
“Malawi Revenue Authority and all licence holders are requested take heed of the suspension order and those that will defy will be prosecuted,” reads the press release. Malawi has sold maize to South Sudan, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
One of the maize traders, Jeffrey Sadyalunda of Chanyumbu Traders, said suspension of maize export was rather a surprise intervention as not long ago the government was selling maize to other countries.
“Traders are selling maize according to the availability. We had assumed the country has enough in stocks,” he said.
Recently, Secretary of the Department of Relief and Disaster Preparedness Jeffrey Kanyinji announced that the country has put aside 4000 metric tonnes which was expected to be distributed to about 200 000 Malawians affected by food shortage in the southern part of Malawi.
The Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), a government corporation that controls the sale of maize in Malawi, announced the increase of maize price by 50 percent from $12 to $18 a 50 kilogramme bag, a move Deputy Minister of Agriculture Kingsley Namakhwa defended, saying it would save the poor people from exploitation by parallel market traders.
Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Vitas Dzoole Mwale said the committee will take a nationwide tour to assess the availability of maize in country’s silos and Admarc depots.
“Evidence on the ground indicates that the country has insufficient maize but government says that the country has maize. Parliament has prioritized our tour. We will advise government accordingly after the tour,” he said.
In the 2010/11 growing season, the government announced that the country managed to harvest 3.2 million tonnes of maize against the national food requirement of 2.4 million tones.