In 2008, Malawi food prices were up 5x compared to 2007 despite the prediction of surplus maize

FAO response:

"FAO works closely with the government of Malawi, and the country was hailed in 2008 for its third consecutive year of maize surpluses. This success has been attributed to the government’s extensive subsidies programme, which has ensured that quality seed, fertilizer and pesticides are supplied to the country’s poor smallholder farmers. FAO is supporting the government through a Technical Cooperation Project worth US$500,000, which is providing quality maize seed, vegetable seeds and cassava cuttings to vulnerable families for plantings from October through December 2008.

In 2008, Malawi exported maize to Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland, and it provided supplies for food aid within its own borders. Nevertheless, large amounts of wheat, maize and other cereals were still imported, and there remain isolated pockets of hunger throughout Malawi, especially in the south, which suffered recent extensive flooding.

Maize prices just before the 2008 harvest, despite predictions of more than 1 million tonnes of exportable surplus maize, were five times the price levels at the same time in March 2007. According to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC), some 520 000 people remain vulnerable to food insecurity, due especially to stubbornly high prices. Although most farmers still have maize from the last harvest, some families, especially urban dwellers, remain at risk for not having produced enough for their own consumption.

FAO is supporting the government through a number of programmes aimed at: maximizing the irrigation potential of Lake Malawi, Africa’s third-largest freshwater lake. Not even 3 percent of land is irrigated, but Malawi intends to create a 20-kilometer wide Green Belt along the lake shore forming much of the country’s eastern border".

It will diversify farming systems through aquaculture along the shores of Lake Malawi and intensifying livestock raising. The FAO will also provide technical assistance in construction of metal silos to reduce post-harvest losses and give policy support in the context of high food prices. "With irrigation, two and three harvests could be possible per year, instead of what is currently just one harvest without".

FAO Initiative on Soaring Food Prices, Malawi, accessed August 12, 2013, [verified 4/15/14]

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