Malawi maize surplus will feed Zimbabwe

BLANTYRE - Malawi, swamped with surplus maize, will export 400000 tons to cash-strapped Zimbabwe.

Nasinuku Saukila, general manager of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), said yesterday: "Malawi has had two good years of bumper maize harvest and is in surplus of about 1,1million tons.

"Zimbabwe has been shopping around for maize. We will be exporting 400 mega-tons of maize after a demand from that country.

"The general picture in the region is that there is a problem and there is demand for our maize. We will export on a first-come, first-served basis," the head of the state-run NFRA said.

Saukila said maize exports this year would give "local farmers and traders a steady market for their surplus maize".

Millions of Malawians depend on maize for their food needs, which is grown on small plots.

"Maize traders were looking for a market and if we buy from them, it will have a multiplier effect as rural farmers are also likely to benefit," he said.

Malawi, which yearly needs two million tons to feed its 12 million people, had a maize surplus of 500000 tons last year and is set for a bumper harvest this year of three million tons.

The surplus is because of subsidised fertiliser and prolonged periods of rainfall, agriculture experts say. - Sapa-AFP