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Government impounds 8 trucks, 65mt smuggled maize

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Grace Mijiga

Representatives of the Ministry of Trade have indicated that they have impounded eight trucks carrying over 65 metric tonnes (mt) of maize in the past week.

This follows a statement the ministry issued over the weekend warning against the vice, which they indicated was becoming worrisome.

In an interview, spokesperson for the ministry Mayeso Msokera said they received information from the general public about some unscrupulous traders who have been smuggling maize, mainly into Tanzania.

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He said the maize is carried in Malawian trucks and, at Chitipa, the bags are transshipped into foreign trucks and driven across the border.

Msokera indicated that the ministry is investigating and assessing the quantities that might have been smuggled.

“The ministry is pursuing the matter seriously with other key agencies such as the Malawi Revenue

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Authority (MRA), Ministry of Agriculture, Malawi Police and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) as the malpractice is a threat to the country’s food security. The security and enforcement agents have since been empowered to monitor and impound any truck found with maize without proper documents.

“So far, about eight trucks have been detained by the police and MDF, with about 65mt of maize in total since the operation started a week ago and we expect the due process of the law to take its course.

“Therefore, we would like to issue a stern warning to all unscrupulous traders who engage in maize smuggling and people aiding them that such malpractice attracts hefty penalties and imprisonment under the Control of Goods Act (2020) and Customs and Excise Act. Government, through the law enforcement agencies, will, therefore, not hesitate to act on them,” Msokera said.

In a separate interview, president of the Grain Producers and Traders Association Grace Mijiga said the vice has been perpetuated by high maize prices in foreign markets.

“Maize prices are only seen to be high in Malawi Kwacha terms but when you convert to a black-market dollar rate, our maize works out to be low at K300 per kg. Black market rate is K1,500 per dollar. Therefore, regional markets are trading at between $350 to $425 per tonne and this makes our maize to be the cheapest,” Mijiga said.

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