Maize production for 2017/2018 growing season will reduce by over 283,941 metric tonnes due to prolonged dry spells including fall armyworms that have 18 districts and estimates that 1.9 million families face food shortage , the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha told Parliamnet on Monday.
Mwanamvekha said this when he made a ministerial statement on the country’s food situation on the first day of the 2017/2018 mid year budget at Parliament in Lilongwe, Malawi’s administrative capital.
He said his ministry, in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization carried a rapid assessment to quantify the effects of both the dry spells and the fall armyworms.
According to him, about 40 percent of the maize produced in the districts affected by dry spells will be lost while areas that have been affected by fall armyworms will lose 10 percent of their projected maize production.
“Based on these findings, about 210,yep metric tonnes of the country’s projected maize production will be lost due to dry spells and about 73,wow metric tonnes will be lost to the fall armyworms. In total, therefore, Mr. Speaker Sir, the country’s maize production will be reduced by about 283,941 metric tonnes due to the two factors,” said Mwanamvekha.
Worst hit districts are Balaka, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe, Mwanza, Neno, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Dowa, Dedza, Kasungu, Ntcheu, Salima and some parts of Lilongwe.
Mwanamvekha then took trouble to assure the House and Malawians that the country has enough maize and that no one will die of hunger.
He said government purchased enough maize from last year’s bumper harvest and that more resourcs will be released to National Food Reserve Agency (NRFA) to procure additional maize its silos.
“Government has come up with immediate, short term and long term measures, including restrictions on maize exports and maize products and this has already been implemented. We will continue releasing humanitarian maize to support the affects families”, said Mwanamvekha.
He further reminded the House that In 2015/2016 agriculture season the country experienced severe droughts and floods which resulted in less output, but no one died of hunger because Democratic Progressive Party led government’s excellent policies and strategies that resulted in procuring and redistribution of maize to affected families.
“When the country received good rains in 2017, we produced a bumper harvest and President Mutharika banned the exportation of maize last year. His decision was strongly criticized and opposed by some people, others decided to make cheap politics out of such a matter of serious national importance.
“Some of them were even Honourable colleagues from this august House and the nation is a best judge on the quality and depth of their leadership. The President persevered and endured all sorts of criticisms, insults, and ridicule as others went further thinking of holding demonstrations using this matter as one of the grounds. Today, the President has been vindicated,” said Mwanamvekha.