REFILE-Malawi cracks down on food smugglers seeking more profit
(Refiles to add Tanzania in sixth paragraph and dropped word in eighth paragraph)
By Karen Sanje
LILONGWE, April 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Malawi has tightened its border controls to stop profiteers smuggling much-needed maize out of the country in search of higher prices.
Months of drought had left more than a third of the population reliant on food aid, and the government last month invoked the Special Crops Act, which bans the export of some crops.
The government deployed soldiers to seal its porous borders with Tanzania and Zambia, and impounded trucks that are smuggling out the staple crop in pursuit of more profit.
Malawi police have also been searching vehicles on roads that lead to the borders.
The size of the trucks stopped by the police suggests that large-scale traders may be involved.
“Over a period of two days, we impounded 26 trucks loaded with white maize as they were heading to Chitipa (a district bordering Zambia and Tanzania)," said Enock Livasoni, a police spokesman in Karonga district, which borders Tanzania.
Police in Chitipa detained at least 17 similar trucks carrying white maize last month, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Continued...