NFRA speaks on grain stocks
The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has indicated that plans are underway to release 25,000 metric tonnes (mt) of maize for price stabilisation functions in areas where the commodity is scarce.
The agency has further indicated that that the government has moved to procure the 100,000mt of maize which commercial banks were holding from the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).
This follows revelations that most parts of the Southern Region are facing acute supply shortages of the commodity, a development that has resulted in price increases.
NFRA Board Chair Denis Kalekeni told The Business Times that the agency has adequate stocks totaling over 124,000mt including the maize bought from Admarc.
“We recently had a stakeholders meeting which agreed that the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) should access 31,000mt for relief purposes and another 25,000mt will be released to areas that have food shortages for price stabilisation function through Admarc.
“Regarding the maize held by the commercial banks, what the government has done is that it has sourced funds within the Ministry of Agriculture from the World Bank and the procurement agent is NFRA but because the money is already with Treasury, we instructed them to pay the commercial banks directly,” Kalekeni said.
A global information and early warning system on food and agriculture report published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation last week indicates that maize prices were highest in the structurally deficit southern districts, averaging about 10 percent above the prices in central and northern markets.
It further says upward pressure on maize prices is likely to remain until at least the start of the next harvest period in April 2023.
“The high food prices are the key reason for the deterioration in food insecurity, which, in the absence of a substantial increase in incomes, are severely constraining households’ economic access to food.
“Production shortfalls in southern districts in 2022, areas that have the highest prevalence of food insecurity, are a further contributing factor. The southern districts also have the highest proportion of households facing severe chronic food insecurity, inferring a general lack of resources and adequate coping capacities to respond effectively to short-term shocks,” the report reads.
In a recent interview, agriculturalist Leonard Chimwaza said the country needs to commercialise and mechanise agriculture, put focus on irrigation and establish policies that are agriculture-friendly.
He singled out the need to establish waivers on importation of agriculture machines.
Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences-based economist Betchani Tchereni said the government should roll out mega farms in the shortest time possible.
“The country should quickly implement policies that were set out such as mega farms because, if it fails, food insecurity will lead to rising food inflation, which will be passed on to headline inflation,” Tchereni said.