A  woman carries food aid distributed by the United Nations World Food Progamme (WFP) in Mzumazi village near Malawi's capital Lilongwe, February 3, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

A woman carries food aid distributed by the United Nations World Food Progamme (WFP) in Mzumazi village near Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

NAIROBI (Business Daily) -Kenya has declined Malawi’s request to buy 1.2 million tonnes of local maize to meet the shortage in the drought-hit southern Africa state.

A letter seen by the Business Daily, written on behalf of the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the director of crops, makes a request on behalf of Malawi.

In response, the director of crops Johnston Irungu says the country is not in a position to sell maize due to the limited stocks.

“Referring to your letter, we are not able at the moment to sell maize to Malawi as per their request. We currently have 10 million bags of maize which can only last for three months,” said Dr Irungu in the letter dated May 31.

In 2010, Malawi played a major role in exporting maize to Kenya at a time the country was faced with a serious shortage that saw the price of a two- kilogramme maize flour shoot to Sh150 for the first time in Kenya’s history.

Malawi is requesting for maize in the wake of a severe food shortage following a prolonged dry spell.

This is the first time Malawi has requested for maize from Kenya, which itself is a food deficit country and relies on cross-border imports from neighbouring countries to meet the annual requirement.

The entire southern Africa including Zambia and South Africa have been faced with severe food shortages resulting from poor weather.

Kenya has in previous years been relying on Malawi and Zambia for white non-genetically modified maize to bridge the shortfall.

The shortage in Malawi will impact negatively on Kenya’simports from Tanzania given the fact that most maize from Dar will find its way to Lilongwe (Malawi capital) owing to attractive prices triggered by high demand.

Millers have been banking on the Tanzanian crop to boost the depleted stock that has so far pushed up the price of flour in Kenya, with a two-kilogramme bag selling at over Sh100. Farmers in Tanzania started harvesting last month but the stocks are hardly coming to Kenya according to millers.

Dr Irungu said that good prices might see some Kenyan traders export produce to Malawi via Tanzania.

“We are currently working under a common business treaty and traders from Kenya might export their crop to Malawi in order to benefit from prevailing high prices,” he said.