MALAWI – Malawi Government ban on maize export is not working to it expectation following revelations that between June and July a total of 3,519 metric tonnes of maize illegally crossed the borders into Tanzania and Mozambique a development that is feared to result into severe shortage of the staple in the coming months.

In a Regional Supply and Market Outlook report released in August, Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) indicated that despite imposing a maize export ban, Malawians continue exporting maize to Tanzania, other East African countries including Kenya and Burundi as well as to the neighboring Mozambique.

Fewsnet warns that the situation, if goes unchecked, could exacerbate food insecurity in the country.

The report suggests that the cited countries are opting to import their maize from Malawi and Zambia mainly due to below-average net supplies of the grain.

During the 2016/17 farming season, Malawi harvested 3.4 million metric tonnes of maize, which is slightly above the national food requirement presently standing at around 3.2 metric tonnes.

Fewsnet warns that, if not checked, the official and unofficial exports may drain the country’s stocks, resulting in both household and national food insecurity.

“Significant price differentials and strong demand in Tanzania and East Africa especially Kenya and Burundi may draw higher than normal levels of maize from Malawi and Zambia.

Formal and informal trade flows, as well as prices, should be monitored closely,” the report reads.

Fewsnet says a substantial amount of the country’s maize was informally exported to Tanzania and Mozambique, with 1,769 metric tonnes crossing the country’s borders into the two countries in June alone and 1,750 metric tonnes in July.

Minister of Trade and Industry Henry Mussa has pushed the blame on the laxity of the maize export ban to the country’s security agencies accusing them of failing to curb informal cross border trade in maize.

“As a ministry, we rely on other government agencies that provide security and checks on illegal merchandise,” Mussa said.

Mussa said while the country was worried about informal exports, at the moment formal cross border trade on maize is at a small scale.

“As a ministry, we intend to issue a statement to warn those involved in informal cross border maize trade that they will face the law.

Selling maize to other countries is criminal and we, as government, will not allow that to continue,” Mussa said.

According to Minister of Trade and Industry spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi the maize export ban is still operational.

“It is just unfortunate that some people are illegally exporting the commodity but the ban is still intact until stakeholders tell us to lift it,” Nkombezi said.

Nyasa Times