Malawi to spend $47 mln for maize: finance minister

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A woman looks at an ear of maize before buying it from a vendor (L) at a morning market in Beijing April 8, 2013.    REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A woman looks at an ear of maize before buying it from a vendor (L) at a morning market in Beijing April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Malawi plans to spend $47 million on maize purchases locally and abroad to address food shortages after a combination of floods and drought damaged crops, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said on Wednesday.

Gondwe told Reuters about $18 million will be spent before the end of June with the remainder earmarked for purchases from July 1, when the 2015/16 financial year begins.

He said this was necessary to “feed Malawians throughout the country.”

In January torrential rains forced Malawi, which had a bumper crop of 3.9 million tonnes in 2014 and a surplus of over a million tonnes, to declare half the country a disaster zone.

The floods decimated crops, displacing 340,000 people and killing over 100, while production of the staple maize crop fell this year by 28 percent. Some parts of the country were also affected by a scorching regional drought.

Neighbouring Zambia is a one source Malawi could source maize from. Zambian agriculture minister Given Lubinda told Reuters this month his country’s yield would drop 21 percent but it would still produce an export surplus of 876,000 tonnes.