Malawian President Joyce Banda has banned the export of maize to neighbouring country, including Tanzania.
Ms Banda has also ordered tighter security along the borders to curb rampant smuggling of the grain. The move follows an acute shortage of maize, which is a staple in the southern African country.
President Banda announced the ban on Monday after visiting the country’s main grain reserves run by the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).
About two million people face starvation in Malawi after adverse weather affected maize production.
Police have in recent months seized hundreds of tonnes of maize along the country’s borders. Authorities believe some of the maize was destined for Tanzania and Kenya.
President Banda said she had been informed that most markets had no maize, adding that the export and smuggling of the commodity had caused an “artificial” shortage in the country.
“I have therefore with immediate effect ordered that police and Agriculture ministry to check and seal our borders against these illegal exports,” she said.
President Banda said it made no sense that Malawi was experiencing a food shortage when the country was implementing a farm input subsidy programme that was aimed at enabling poor people to achieve food security.
Malawi police recently arrested four Tanzanians and a Malawian as they were allegedly trying to smuggle out about 200 bags of maize.
However, a local leader in Karonga, the district bordering Tanzania, has accused Malawian police of profiteering from maize smuggling, and said the Malawi Defence Forces should be deployed to man the borders.