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Tanzania: Malawi’s Maize Import Ban Forces WFP to Mill Grain From Tanzania


Blantyre, Malawi — Despite ongoing food shortages, the government of Malawi last month banned the import of unmilled maize from Kenya and Tanzania, citing concerns about the spread of maize lethal necrosis disease, or MLN. To help keep Malawians fed, the World Food Program has started milling 30,000 metric tons of relief maize. Authorities say the first consignment of the milled grain is expected next week.

Ironically, the maize the WFP purchased for milling is from Tanzania. The grain was held up last week, awaiting the arrival of experts to test it for MLN.

However, the WFP country director in Malawi, Paul Turnbul, told local media that in the interests of time, it was agreed that no tests would be done and instead, the WFP would just mill the maize and import flour to Malawi

Charles Kalemba, the commissioner for Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs, told the state broadcaster Tuesday importing flour is safe.

“We are getting maize flour from Tanzania because the agriculture ministry did not say we cannot get maize, but what we call full grain maize, which can be planted, [that’s] where the problem is,” he said. “But getting food in the form of maize flour, that’s okay.”

In December, Malawi’s government banned the import of unmilled maize grain from Kenya and Tanzania because of concerns that the spread of MLN could wipe out the country’s staple crop.

The ministry of agriculture said the disease has no treatment and can cause up to 100% yield loss.

Ronald Chilumpha, an expert in crop protection in Malawi, told VOA he did not expect Malawi to ban maize grain from Tanzania.

“Maize necrosis has been there in East Africa since 2012,” he said. “Malawi has been on alert for potential presence of the disease in the country. I do believe that these are scientific issues that can be discussed from a scientific point of view and come to a consensus.”