July 10, 2007

Malawi provides maize for Zimbabwe

Malawi has started selling much-needed maize to Zimbabwe under an export agreement which includes a US$10 million line of credit. "We have already exported 90.000 metric tonnes (mt) within the past two and a half months," Patrick Kabambe, Malawi's Principal Secretary of Agriculture and Food Security said. "We have received some payments for the maize that has been sent". Zimbabwe's maize order has been urgent. "The Zimbabwean government wanted us to supply at least 100.000mt every month; we told them it was not possible in terms of logistics - processing, fumigation etc," said Kabambe.
Malawi's agriculture sector has had a second successive bumper harvest, making an almost complete recovery from a drought in 2005 that left close to five million people in need of food aid. This year's maize crop has seen a 22 percent increase compared to 2006; it was 73 percent higher than the average for the past five years, according to government estimates. "It has helped push the prices up and benefited the farmers," Kabambe commented, but was unable to say by how much. "The price could vary from supplier to supplier; besides, transport costs from various parts of Malawi would be different, but we are not selling it at a loss - the price has not been subsidized for Zimbabwe."
Malawi requires around two million mt of maize annually to feed its 12 million people. In 2006 it had a surplus of about 500.000mt and so far there is a surplus of about 1.5 million mt. The high yield has been attributed to a fertiliser subsidy programme and good rainfall. (rts)

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