Food Crisis in Malawi

This is truly very sad. We waste so much of our food here, daily, while around the globe there are millions who have nothing to eat. (external - login to view)

Malawi leader declares disaster over food crisis
Sat 15 Oct 2005 12:28 PM ET

LILONGWE, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika has declared a national disaster over a crippling food crisis affecting almost half of his people.

Hit by a regional drought, the impoverished southern African country of 12 million people is facing its worst corn harvest since 1992, producing just 1.3 million tonnes -- or 37 percent of the food staple needed for national consumption this year.

"A consensus has emerged that we have a serious food shortage affecting many people in Malawi and accordingly ... I declare all districts in Malawi disaster areas with effect from today," Wa Mutharika said in a statement issued on Saturday.

People in Malawi's southern province are reported to have resorted to eating water lilies and wild yams to survive, and residents say some have even died after eating poisonous plants.

Aid agencies say some 5 million people need urgent food aid after poor rains made crops fail, compounding problems for an agricultural sector ravaged by successive droughts and HIV/AIDS.

"So far ... the government has distributed a total of 22,000 metric tonnes to about one million people from June to September this year," said Wa Mutharika.

The country's maize requirement is estimated at 2.1 million metric tonnes, but the 2004/05 season produced 1.3 million tonnes, leaving a shortfall 462,608 tonnes.

On Thursday, the government and Western donors agreed to triple food handouts from October to December.

The government, through non-governmental organisations, will distribute 60,517 metric tonnes of food in this period compared to 22,000 metric tonnes in the previous three-month period.

The next harvest is not due until April, and many households have run short of food after a series of poor crops.

Malawi is the worst-affected of six countries in the region and needs food relief to see it through to the April harvest after the widespread failure of the 2005 staple maize crop.
Reverend Blair
Kofi Annan asked for 48 million in aid months ago, the developed world has met about 1/3 of that. Canada has sent $1 million worth of food aid. Big feckin' deal.

At the same time, subsidy regimes in the US and the EU (although it is the US that is most vehement about maintaining them) make it unprofitable, and impossible, for neighbouring African nations to grow enough crops to deal with droughts on the continent.

Toss in the insistence of the US government that African nations accept GM crops as part of receiving aid, and how unsuitable those crops are both to African growing conditions and farming methods, and we're bound to see this kind thing more and more often.

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