President Lazarus Chakwera has said government has put in place measures to diversify and find other food sources to avert looming hunger this year.
Speaking on Talk to Al Jazeera on Saturday, Chakwera conceded that there is shortage of maize in the country and that government is encouraging farmers to plant other crops such as sweet potatoes and cassava for food.
He said: “What we are doing currently is trying to diversify and have other food systems so that Malawi can survive through this period.
“We do have a maize shortage even though what we were able to produce would be an average higher than last year, but we encourage the growth of cassava, sweet potatoes and others to supplement which cannot be imported.”
Chakwera: We have a maize deficit
The recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) under the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) indicates that 2022 Malawi IPC chronic food insecurity report shows that 5.4 million of Malawians living in rural and secondary urban centres are facing moderate or severe chronic food insecurity. This represents 33 percent of the population.
The first round of crop estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that this year, the country will harvest 3.9 million metric tonnes (MT) of maize, down from 4.4 million MT last year which is a 0.5 million MT drop.
On the 25 percent devaluation of the kwacha, Chakwera said the move was necessary and it has helped to free up forex to pay for critical imports.
On 27th May, the Reserve Bank of Malawi announced a return to a market-determined foreign exchange rate regime to narrow imbalances.
The move meant the currency, which was trading at around K850 prior to the loosening, moved to K1 012.69 to the dollar.
On job creation, Chakwera blamed the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it disrupted his promise to create one million jobs.
He said due to the pandemic, a lot of companies closed shop and people lost their jobs. He, however, said government is trying its best to create jobs despite the global crisis.
Chakwera said: “Jobs were lost, many companies were closed and we are trying to encourage the construction industry in building infrastructure across the country to create jobs.
“Our National Economic Empowerment Fund [Neef] has disbursed K37 billion to various groups to create such jobs and over 162 000 people have been helped. We are just trying the best we can [under] the circumstances,” he said.
On the worsening perception of corruption in the country, the President said he is doing all he can to tame corruption.
During the National Anti-Corruption Conference last week, Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo announced some initiatives to deal with the vice.
He said among the initiatives is the establishment of a Financial Crimes Court to handle and speed up prosecution of corruption cases.
Last year, Malawi scored 35 points out of 100 on the Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. This indicates an increase in corruption perception in the country as compared to 2020 when it was 30.