By Peter Apps
LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Malawi’s government has donated more than 10,000 tonnes of maize to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), keeping the agency’s programmes in the country running to the end of the year.
Malawi suffered years of serious food shortage as a result of dry weather, lack of inputs such as seeds and fertiliser and the impact of the HIV pandemic on farmers. But it is now enjoying its second surplus harvest in a row.
Aid workers say its recent agricultural success is down both to good weather and government programmes that got fertiliser to farmers. But WFP says thousands of Malawians — particularly those affected by AIDS — remain in need of food handouts.
"Food is absolutely crucial to the fight against HIV/AIDS and this donation will allow WFP to provide assistance to thousands of poor, hungry families affected by the pandemic," said WFP country director Dom Scalpelli.
"WFP has made a huge difference to the lives of so many Malawians over the years and now we will be able to help more people in the coming months."
WFP said the 10,425-tonne donation was valued at $1.8 million. The agency supports 110,000 Malawians a month affected by HIV as well as around 1,500 malnourished mothers and children, with the numbers rising towards the end of the year.
Malawi’s president said last month the country would also donate 10,000 tonnes of maize to Lesotho and Swaziland, which have suffered serious droughts.
Malawi has also sold 400,000 tonnes to Zimbabwe, where WFP says more than 4 million people faced serious shortage again due to poor rains and the effect of HIV.
Malawi this year harvested a crop of 3.4 million tonnes, 1.3 million more than its national requirement. Neighbour Zambia also produced a significant surplus.
WFP says Malawi’s government is now the second largest donor to its operations in the country after the United States.
With regional breadbasket South Africa harvesting a mediocre crop that has made its maize more expensive, WFP says it is increasingly turning to countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique to source cheaper food supplies.
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