Malawi's Banda bans maize exports as shortage worsens
Malawi President Joyce Banda has ordered the sealing of the country's borders, particularly with Tanzania, to curb rampant smuggling of maize.
President Banda ordered the ban on exports Monday during a visit to the country's main grain reserve, the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), to size up the amount of stored maize.
About two million people are facing starvation following a crippling maize shortage. Police have also confiscated thousands of metric tonnes of maize along the country's borders intended for export.
It is believed the maize was being smuggled to Tanzania and Kenya.
President Banda said she had received reports that most markets did not have maize yet some unscrupulous traders were exporting it illegally.
"I have therefore with immediate effect ordered that police and the Agriculture ministry check and seal our borders against these illegal exports," she said.
President Banda said that it was illogical for Malawians to experience food shortage when the country was implementing a farm input subsidy programme aimed at enabling poor people achieve food security.
Recently Malawi police arrested four Tanzanians and a Malawian allegedly trying to smuggle out close to 200 bags of maize.
However one traditional leader in Karonga, the district bordering Tanzania, has accused Malawi police of profiteering from the smuggling and has urged the army to man the borders.