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1.9 million face hunger

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KASAILA— We are prepared

At least 1.9 million people face hunger in the country in the first quarter of 2020, an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations indicates.

According to the snapshot released on April 22, the highest prevalence of food insecurity was assessed in the Southern Region districts of Balaka, Neno and Nsanje and in the Northern Region district of Karonga.

The analysis further indicates that despite an expected above-average harvest in 2020 that would improve food availability and ease constraints to food, the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic could cause an increase in the prevalence of malnutrition.

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“The effects of the pandemic are expected to be primarily channeled through a reduction in economic activities and associated income losses, while potential breakdowns in the food supply chains represent additional concerns for food security across the country,” the report reads.

The preliminary official production forecast for the 2020 maize output stands at about 3.7 million tonnes, nine percent above that of 2019.

Reacting to the report, agriculture expert, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, said it is important to note that the hunger that would come is not because Covid-19 has affected production of maize but rather distribution and the market.

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“The people that are going to mainly be affected are those that depend on the market as their source of food. So here were are looking at the urban and the peri-urban setups. The good thing is we have known this while people are still harvesting so the government should make sure the Strategic Grain Reserve has enough maize. Admarc should buy a lot of maize from now to June this year to cushion the impending hunger,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Francis Kasaila, said the government has upped its game to purchase more maize this year in case of any eventuality.

“Come disaster or not we are prepared to have adequate reserves. As government, we make sure every year we should have enough maize. We opened the markets early to buy enough maize for those that may not have it. So I would say we started very well,” Kasaila said.

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