ST. LOUIS -- Monsanto announced today its decision to donate 700 metric tons of quality hybrid corn seed in Malawi, an equivalent donation of $840,000. The donation will form part of an integrated plan to distribute the seeds through the Malawian government and local non-governmental organizations in Malawi.

The 700 metric tons of white quality hybrid corn seeds, available in 5-kilogram (11-pound) bags, could reach as many as 140,000 Malawi farm families. When properly planted and managed, this seed will be able to feed more than one million people for a year.

Since 2002, Malawi has continued to experience chronic food shortages due to drought, poverty and low crop yields. This year alone, an estimated five million people are in dire need of food aid, and the government, the donor community and NGOs are working to avert a crisis situation.

Monsanto's initiative builds on existing programs driven by the Malawian government and local NGOs working on the need to increase self-sufficiency at a local, family farm, level. The government is already subsidizing fertilizer to raise production of food and, with the help of local NGOs, will ensure proper and prioritized distribution of the seeds.

"This generous donation comes at a critical time in Malawi," said the Minister of Agriculture Uladi Mussa. "This access to quality hybrid maize seed complements very well our fertilizer subsidy program. Improved seeds, like hybrids and irrigation development, have shown for many decades to have greater yield potential, and this is a critical element of our plan to achieve food self sufficiency in Malawi."

Antonio Valencia of Sasakawa Global 2000, which is involved in the promotion of conservation tillage in Malawi, added, "By enabling the local farmers to benefit from hybrid seed, Monsanto is helping the government of Malawi stop the cycle of poverty. Those farmers following the conservation tillage method with this seed will not require food aid nor inputs from government next year."

World Vision Malawi, one of the seven members of the NGO consortium, said, "This donation is addressing both the short-term and the long-term needs of the people in Malawi, and fits very well with our programs in this country."

Monsanto previously donated one million dollars, through the worldwide Monsanto Fund, to the World Food Program for the provision of emergency relief food aid to the poor and drought-affected population in Malawi and recently gave 120 metric tons of seed to the UNDP for the Millennium Development Goals villages program.

Monsanto Company is a leading provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

SOURCE Monsanto Company via PR Newswire.