WFP processing 23,000 metric tonnes of maize flour for government to distribute to hunger-threatened households

* The food distribution exercise as a significant milestone in WFP’s efforts to alleviate the plight of vulnerable people who urgently require food assistance

* The government has hit the ground running by reaching out to affected vulnerable people in Blantyre

By Duncan Mlanjira

World Food Programme (WFP) Malawi handed over 1,400 metric tonnes of maize for the government distribute to food-insecure people under the 2023/24 lean season food insecurity response programme.


This is the first consignment of 23,000 metric tonnes which WFP Malawi has been mandated to supply the maize flour for the government with funding from development partner, the World Bank through the Agriculture Commercialisation (AGCOM) project.

Targeted districts include Blantyre, Thyolo, Mulanje, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Lilongwe, Dowa, Ntchisi, Mzimba, Karonga, Chitipa among others and a day after the handover, the government hit the ground running by reaching out to affected vulnerable people at Chilangoma and Andiseni communities in Blantyre on Saturday.

At the handover on Friday, WFP Country Director, Paul Turnbull said they were honoured to have been chosen to supply the much-needed relief food and described the food distribution exercise as a significant milestone in the organization’s efforts to alleviate the plight of vulnerable people who urgently require food assistance.

He emphasised that access to food is a human right and those without need to be assisted with speed, saying: “Access to food is a fundamental human right, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that no one is deprived of this necessity.

“Let us remain steadfast in our commitment to build more resilient Malawi as we strive to achieve zero hunger goal by 2030.”

Turnbull announced that the 1,400 metric tonnes is part of the 23,000 metric tonnes being sourced from Tanzania and South Africa, which will be promptly handed over to government upon arrival.

He also applauded the collective efforts WFP has on this exercise through the Ministry of Agriculture, DoDMA and AGCOM in alleviating threats of hunger of the vulnerable homes in this food insecurity season.

The consignment was received by Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Geoffrey Mamba in the company of officials from DoDMA and AGCOM and he reiterated what President Lazarus Chakwera announced in Parliament in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that government has put in place interventions on the current food insecurity situation that started in October and implemented through maize flour distribution and cash transfers.

He added that the maize flour being procured through WFP is worth US$20 million obtained from the World Bank but the whole exercise is requiring government to spend over US$226 million.


“As we are all aware that Malawi has been greatly affected by the El Niño weather phenomenon in that the country has experienced erratic rainfall patterns and once it was forecasted that over millions of people will not have food till the next season, the government rolled out the food relief programme.

“The US$226 million is also for lean season intervention through irrigation where able farmers can replant using irrigation system ahead of the next rainfall season,” he said.

At a press briefing last week in Lilongwe on the status of the 2023/2024 lean season food insecurity response programme (LSFIRP), Minister of Information & Digitalisation Moses Kunkuyu emphasised the need for Malawi to graduate from financing subsistence farming to agricultural commercialisation if the country is to attain the much needed food security at national level.

He said the country is going towards that direction through provision of agriculture loans to farmers, through National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) who were benefitting from the agricultural inputs programme (AIP).

He also said the government is very focused on the establishment of mega farms across the country, saying the AIP is undergoing reforms and, as such, the number of beneficiaries keep changing in order to allow farmers graduate from subsistence to commercial farmers.

Kunkuyu at Chilangoma in Blantyre

Kunkuyu graced the launch of the distribution of the 1,400 metric tonnes at Chilangoma and Andiseni communities in Blantyre, who said government is committed to ensuring that no one dies of hunger.

He assured the affected people that the first consignment is targeting 397,778 households and advised the beneficiaries not to sell the maize flour but use it for the intended purpose, warning: “Any beneficiary who sells this flour will be struck off from the list of beneficiaries forthwith — and reported to security personnel for further action.”

The Minister also warned people who would want to enrich themselves at the expense of intended beneficiaries that they will face the law once caught.

The food insecurity response programme, which started in October 2023, has so far reached out to 4,375,448 food insecure people with either maize or cash.—Additional reporting by Memory Kutengule Chatonda, MANA