Cisanet urges Malawi to intensify irrigation farming amidst drought scare

Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) has appealed to government to increase investment in irrigation farming activities as the country is expected to receive erratic rainfall in 2018/19 agricultural season.

CisaNet national director Pamela Kuwali

The consensus forecast produced by the 22nd Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) in Lusaka, Zambia predicated that Southern African countries including Malawi would receive erratic rainfall in the next planting season.

Speaking Monday in a telephone interview, CISANET National Director, Pamela Kuwali said government should create more awareness to farmers on how they can respond to drought so as to minimize the impact.

“Stakeholders in the agriculture sector should support farmers with seeds and cuttings of drought tolerant crops, government storage reserves should also be full of maize to their maximum capacity,” said Kuwali.

Furthermore, CISANET also asked farmers to grow early maturing crop varieties as the season may be shorter due to drought conditions.

“Farmers are required to plant more drought tolerant crops like cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, among others. They also need to practice conservation agriculture such as water harvesting through box ridges, organic manure application so that they can retain more water in their fields,” Kuwali added.

The climate experts considered oceanic and atmospheric factors that influence the climate of the SADC region. They predicted that the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to shift from a neutral to warm phase in the coming rain season, a phenomenon known as El Nino.

SARCOF further said bulk of the SADC region is expected to receive normal to below-normal rain for most of the period of October 2018 – March 2019.

However, the central belt of the region encompassing Angola, Northern Zambia, Northern Malawi, Southern Tanzania and Northern Mozambique, the Islands states of Mauritius and Seychelles and Eastern Madagascar, are more likely to receive normal to above-normal rainfall for the duration of the season.

This means central and southern region of Malawi will be areas most likely to receive erratic rainfall.

Meanwhile, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has said it will soon hold a press conference to present a national statement on 2018/2019 rainfall outlook.

Director of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, Jolamu Nkhokwe said regional forecast might be different to local forecast due to physical and geographical factors

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