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April 17, 2008

Malawi expects third maize bumper harvest in a row

Malawi is set for a bumper harvest of 3.3 million tonnes of maize which will yield a one million tonne surplus in a country once crippled by famine, officials said on April 16.

"The first and second round of estimates show that Malawi expects to harvest 3.3 million tonnes of maize," said Frank Mwenifumbo, deputy agriculture minister.

Malawi, which annually needs two million tonnes to feed its population, in 2007 harvested 3.2 million tonnes, representing a 22 percent increase from 2006. Over 400,000 tonnes of the surplus maize from last year's harvest was exported to cash-strapped Zimbabwe, once the region's bread-basket.

Malawi met its food needs in 2006 for the first time in seven years following a string of poor harvests, mainly due to drought. Food security is a pressing issue in Malawi, where 60 percent of its people live below the poverty line and on less than a dollar a day.

Famine threatened up to five million people in 2005 following drought and the government spent over 100 million dollars to import food from South Africa and the region to avert hunger.

AFP

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