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South Sudan buys maize from Malawi to avert hunger

South Sudan has sourced maize from Malawi to avert looming food crisis that could reach Horn of Africa proportions, a South Sudan minister said on Friday.

The Investment, Commerce and Industry minister, Garang Diing Akuong, said the government “managed to mobilise about three hundred thousand bags of maize from Malawi and this will reduce the prices of food.”

Alternating floods and drought, internal strife and a refugee situation have conspired to give Africa's newest state a difficult start to independent life.

The widening food gap is currently estimated at 300,000-400,000 metric tons, which, unless a quick intervention is made, could plunge the infant nation into famine.

Malawi under Bingu wa Mutharika has had food surplus for the past six years, but has no clue on what to do with the excess maize some of which has reportedly rotted in storage.

The South Sudan deal is a good deal to Malawi which is failing to bridge the import export deficit due to having a small number of exports.

However, instead of exporting raw maize Malawi should have found a way of adding value to the commodity by processing it for various maize products such couscous or maize flour.

South Sudan last year produced 750,000 metric tons of cereals, and that is barely 50 per cent of what it is supposed to produce, according to Agriculture and Forestry minister Betty Achan Ogwaro.

The food supplements have mostly been coming from Sudan which produces enough food in Gezira and Al-Gadarif agricultural schemes.

However, North Sudan since May has blocked the borders, saying they were “not going to open the borders until the problems in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states are resolved.”

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