Malawi stops maize exports
Malawi has tightened its border controls to stop profiteers smuggling much-needed maize out of the country in search of higher prices.
Months of drought had left more than a third of the population reliant on food aid, and the government last month invoked the Special Crops Act, which bans the export of some crops.
The government deployed soldiers to seal its porous borders with Tanzania and Zambia, and impounded trucks that are smuggling out the staple crop in pursuit of more profit.
Malawi police have also been searching vehicles on roads that lead to the borders. The size of the trucks stopped by the police suggests that large-scale traders may be involved.
"Over a period of two days, we impounded 26 trucks loaded with white maize as they were heading to Chitipa [a district bordering Zambia and Tanzania]," said Enock Livasoni, a police spokesman in Karonga district, near Tanzania.
Police in Chitipa detained at least 17 similar trucks carrying white maize last month, he said. International aid agencies in Malawi said maize smuggling has increased as traders seek the higher prices paid in Kenya and DR Congo.
Malawian farmers are required to sell their surplus to local vendors and traders.
Traders resell it across the country, or to the National Food Reserve Agency, which stores maize and releases it mainly in response to humanitarian crises.