Massive crop failure imperils millions in Malawi

A report on Monday said 1.63-million Malawians, out of a population of 13-million, would need food aid after crops failed in the south of the country, despite a bumper harvest of three-million tonnes nationwide.

The study was conducted by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, which comprises several government departments, the United Nations, embassies and humanitarian agencies.

Only 200 000 people required food aid last year.

Fifteen districts in the centre and south of the country were affected, according to the report. Prolonged dry spells and low access to farm inputs have been blamed for poor harvests in southern Malawi.

"Those affected will require support for a period of three to eight months," the committee said, recommending a "swift response".

Disaster management authorities and the UN's humanitarian office developed a joint plan to distribute 75 000 tonnes of staple maize from August.

Malawi had had a good food security record in recent years after late president Bingu wa Mutharika implemented an expensive subsidy programme giving poor villagers access to fertilisers and inputs. – AFP

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