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Malawi maize in Tanzania, East Africa

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Despite imposing a maize export ban, Malawians continue exporting maize to Tanzania and East African countries, a situation which could exacerbate food insecurity in the country, warns Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet).

Fewsnet indicates in a report released on August 31 2017 that Tanzania and East African nations such as Kenya and Burundi are importing maize from Malawi and Zambia due to below-average net supplies of the grain.

During the 2016/17 farming season, Malawi harvested 3.4 million metric tonnes of maize, which is slightly above the national food requirement presently standing at around 3.2 metric tonnes.

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In its Regional Supply and Market Outlook report, Fewsnet warns that, if not checked, official and unofficial exports may drain the country’s stocks, resulting in both household and national food insecurity.

“Significant price differentials and strong demand in Tanzania and East Africa—especially Kenya and Burundi— may draw higher than normal levels of maize from Malawi and Zambia. Formal and informal trade flows, as well as prices, should be monitored closely,” the report reads

Fewsnet further says over 76 percent of the country’s maize was informally exported to Tanzania and Mozambique, indicating that 1,769 metric tonnes crossed the country’s borders in June and 1,750 metric tonnes in July.

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Minister of Trade and Industry, Henry Mussa, has, however, blamed the country’s security agencies for failing to curb informal cross border trade in maize.

“As a ministry, we rely on other government agencies that provide security and checks on illegal merchandise,” Mussa said in an interview on Saturday.

Mussa has, however, downplayed the existence of formal cross border trade, noting such a practice is at a small scale.

“Informal cross border trade exists but not formal cross border trade. As a ministry, we intend to issue a statement to warn those involved in informal cross border maize trade that they will face the law. Selling maize to other countries is criminal and we, as government, will not allow that to continue,” Mussa said

In a separate interview, Minister of Trade and Industry spokesperson, Wiskes Nkombezi, said the maize export ban is still intact.

However, he said the ministry is still consulting relevant stakeholders, including Immigration and Ministry of Agriculture officials.

“It is just unfortunate that some people are illegally exporting the commodity but the ban is still intact until stakeholders tell us to lift it,” Nkombezi said.

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