President Mutharika estimated that the country will face a maize deficit of about 1,072,461metric tonnes in the 2015 /16 growing season.

The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) indicated as of January this 2016, at least 2.9 million people were food insecure due to, among others, the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Low farm yields are as the result of drought worsened by the El Niño effects that have affected Southern African nations including Malawi resulting in partial or complete loss of crops in most parts of the country.

“Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development will ascertain the actual deficit after the third round production estimates in June, 2016, whose results will form a basis to compute a comprehensive national food balance sheet.

“However, basing on the weather pattern and the fact that the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has projected early cessation of the rainfall season, it is expected that an increased number of people will be food insecure and will require humanitarian relief assistance for the whole 2016/17 consumption year,” said President Mutharika in a statement.

The President said that the affected population will require about 790,000 metric tonnes of relief food.

President Mutharika said initial indications were that there is need to re-stock the country’s Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) with about 250,000 metric tonnes as buffer stock during the season and that the Agricultural Development and marketing Corporation (Admarc) will require a total of 250,000 metric tonnes of maize to sell to the general public in an effort to stabilise maize prices during the 2016/2017 season.

He also announced that government will cash its drought insurance to start off the relief process and that it will distribute part of its remaining food items to the affected population.

The country’s maize requirement for human consumption, seed, stock feed, and industrial use is currently estimated at 3,205,135 metric tonnes.

Those in the United Kingdom and other countries can contact the Malawi High Commission in the United Kingdom to get details on how they can support Government efforts to mitigate the effects of food shortage.