Abuja - President Peter Mutharika has called on Malawians to "not panic" over food shortages, claiming that there is "more than enough maize" available in the country's depots, local newspaper Nyasa Times reported on Tuesday.
Speaking during an address at the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Mutharika revealed that the "62 000 metric tons of maize in storage" would be enough to last the southern African country until next year.
Mutharika's address followed just a day after Catholic bishops complained over his government's nonchalant attitude in the wake of chronic maize shortages that "are threatening the livelihood of many of Malawi's poorest citizens".
Mutharika's remarks seemed to be a direct response to calls from various stakeholders calling on government to declare a state of emergency.
According to The Times, the Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) made an impassioned plea to government last week, calling for a state of emergency to be declared in areas of the country that have been most affected by the prolonged drought.
A report released by Cisanet said: "the first crop estimate for 2015/16 growing season has further painted a gloomy picture to the national food security situation, with maize yields expected to drop by 2% from the final estimated figures for the 2014/2015 growing season."
The Maravi Post indicated that the current shortage prompted government to procure 10 000 metric tons of maize stock from Zambia in February.
Despite the large import, however, a report released by Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) warned that procured grain will not be enough to carry the country into the next harvesting season.