Malawi crop estimate not yet out –Tsoka

Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has said crop estimates are not yet out to establish the extent of damage caused by dry spell and fall army worms that has affected some districts in the country.

Crops dry in Makanjira

The Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Osborne Tsoka told Malawi News Agency (Mana) Thursday in Lilongwe that continued dry spells have caused crops to wilt in most part of the country.

He said the Ministry is in the process to help smallholder framers to contain the spread of the fall army worms which has caused extensive damages to most maize crops.

“The Ministry is currently formulating the possible interventions that can assist the smallholder farmers with measures to overcome the problems and assess the impact in the prolonged dry spells and fall army on crop production,” Tsoka explained.

He disclosed that the Ministry is compiling crop estimates throughout the country and it would be able to know whether the country will have surplus or shortage.

The PRO pointed out that in some cases particularly in low lying areas of southern and central areas, cereal crops like Maize have dried up permanently and some farming households are likely not to harvest anything from their fields.

Tsoka added that, “The season started very well with most of the districts receiving the optimum planting rains by month end of November, with other districts getting their rains by December, 2017.”

“For the past three weeks, the rains have not come and there was an observation of wilting that ranged from moderate to permanent wilting. Approximately 215,000 hectares have been affected with 618,000 households likely not to harvest anything,” he noted.

The PRO explained that 270,000 hectares have been affected by fall army worms in some districts and 720,000 farming families have been greatly affected.

According to Tsoka, communities in low lying areas might be in some traces of floods and the farmers have to be cautious about the possibilities of the occurrence.

Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, Seasoned Principal Agro-meteorologist, Adams Chavula said that average crop yields and production during 2017/18 growing season are likely to be lower than last season due prolonged dry spells.

“This will compromise crop production and household food security this growing season,” he narrated.

Chavula added that although most areas in southern and some parts of central of the country  started experiencing prolonged dry spells from end of December, 2017 through to January, 2018 and good rainfall for agricultural production was confined to northern part of the country.

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