Local NGO hits at government critics over demands on maize ban lift

Lilongwe,A local Non-governmental Organization, Humane Consortium on Nature for Mankind (HCNM) has crushed the maize ban, lifting demands by some quarters in the country as ill-motivated, saying such people do not have the welfare of Malawians at heart.

HCNM, Human Rights Officer, Rodgers Pondani made the remarks in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Monday at its offices in Lilongwe amid continued pressure by different individuals asking government to vacate the ban made on cross-border maize sale.

”We commend the President for ordering this ban on cross boundary maize trading. This will help a lot on reducing suffering to most Malawians who would be severely affected if the maize was exported in exchange of money,” Pondani said.

He appealed to all government opponents on this matter to exercise ‘pure sanity’ when it comes to subjects to do with national importance like the maize issue.

”If not for the ban, already a big number of our local farmers should have had less grain in their local reserves or granary making them suffer again due to food shortage. I question the moral ground for these lifting demands.”

”The same government under criticism now, will spend billions of money to import maize from outside if our own grain is exported unmindfully which is retrogressive to development because that amount spent for maize importation would be spent on other projects to transform this country,” he pointed out.

He advised that Malawians should not be enticed by unscrupulous traders who are currently buying the crop using adjusted scales, saying doing so would be dangerous to their families.

”Yes, money is needed to buy fertilizers for the next growing season. I must ask government and relevant institutions to join hands in considering price adjustment on the crop to avoid crooked traders from ripping our farmers.”

”Local farmers sell the maize to vendors at a giveaway price because they need instant money and have no alternative market with fair prices fixed on it,” he observed.

Commenting on the matter, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Nicholas Dausi, who is also government spokesperson, said government would consider vacating the maize ban after getting assured that national silos were full and that Malawians have enough food reserves at household level.

”We want to make sure that at least Malawians are safe to avoid being hit by food shortage soon when we have been blessed with plenty now. So let me ask everyone else to take care of the harvest God has blessed us with, before we think of exporting it,” Dausi said, adding government would not be moved by people advocating for a lift to the maize ban saying they were merely exercising their right to expression.

President Arthur Peter Mutharika banned the exportation of maize, a development that saw the Malawi Defense Force manning borders to ensure that the security is maximized.

Maize is Malawi’s staple food and government spent billions of money to import maize from Zambia during the 2016-2017 financial year.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA