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K8 billion saved for maize purchase

National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has announced that it has set aside K8 billion for buying maize and it is calling for bids of tenders.

NRFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nasinuku Saukira, Sunday said they look forward to a transparent competitive bidding process.

“I cannot say the exact volume of maize that we want because that also depends on the bids and the prices. Being a tender, we can’t predict,” Saukira said.

The 39th ordinary summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community in Tanzania also noted the overall decline in food production in the region, for the 2018/19 crop season, and urged member states to implement comprehensive multi-year response plans to tackle droughts and food insecurity.

William Kumwenda, who run Climate Smart Agriculture Organisation in the Northern Region, has observed that in a case where local suppliers are unable to meet the required volumes of maize, there might be need to outsource the maize, a situation which, he said, could create loopholes.

“We can only hope that all that maize will be procured within the country but in case there is need of importing, then we expect stringent measures and procurement procedures have to be followed to avoid irregularities that led to Maizegate in 2016,” Kumwenda said.

But Saukira has trashed the fears, saying NRFA was not involved in the infamous Maizegate which saw President Peter Mutharika firing the then Agriculture minister George Chaponda for the alleged role he played in the scam.

Commenting on the matter, Economics Association of Malawi President, Chiku Kalilombe, urged NRFA to stick to procurement guidelines and be transparent in the whole process.

“Concern has mostly been where some procedures are bypassed with the excuse being that we were in an emergency. This needs to be avoided by forecasting timely,” Kalilombe said.

A report by Famine Early Warning Systems Network, earlier this year, however, projected an improvement in food security outcomes this year.

A report by famine Early Warning Systems Network of 2018 indicates that Malawi requires over 200,000 metric tonnes of maize to be sustained for a year.

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