October 30, 2017 / 4:45 PM / 2 years ago

Malawi lifts maize export ban after rains return

FILE PHOTO: A Malawian trader counts money as he sells maize near the capital Lilongwe, Malawi February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi President Peter Mutharika lifted a two-year ban on maize exports on Monday, after a bumper 2016/17 harvest helped farmers bounce back from a severe drought.

The previous year’s harvest was devastated by an El- Nino weather system that swept across southern Africa and left about half of Malawi’s 15 million people needing food aid.

But returning rains helped produced 3.2 million tonnes of the staple crop in 2017 from 2.4 million tonnes a year earlier.

“Farmers can now start selling their maize outside the country because I am assured that the country has adequate maize. So there is no fear of hunger,” Mutharika said at an event hosted by grain marketing board Admarc.

Reporting by Mabvuto Banda; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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