Malawi is expectedto register a higher maize out put that the year before with survey results showing that the countr’s staple grain will chalk 35.9 percent production gain but the nation is asked to celebrate maize estames with caution.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development on Thursday released the first round of 2016/17 agriculture production estimates which gives hope to an agro-based economu.
In a statement which Principal Secretary Erica Maganga made available to Nyasa Times, first crop estimate survey reveals that Malawi will have 3,220, 712 metric tons of maize which is 35.9 % increase than the figures released last year.
“The results show that national maize production is projected at 3,220,712 metric tons, which is 35.9 percent higher than the 2015/16 final round estimate of 2,369,493 metric tons,” reads the statement in part.
But on Friday, The Nation daily newspaper said in its editorial comment that the figure sare “debatable” after it emerged in recent weeks that the hunger crisis may have been overstated.
“But given how influential agriculture output, especially maize, is to the Malawi economy, we can only expect a better macroeconomic environment. We know how the nationwide food insecurities over the past two years brought fiscal and monetary policy challenges to the point of destabilising the national budget,” the paper said.
The daily urges caution, stating: “ The crop figures are mere estimates and could change, what with army worms and floods that swept parts of the country and which are projections may not have factored in.”
Farming households have been advised to “avoid selling their crop now only to buy it at higher prices during the November-February lean period.”
In the statement, the Ministry indicates that the country will realise an increase of 41.5% of rice.
“Rice production is expected to go up by 41.5 percent. Production of sweet potatoes is projected to increase by 27.6 percent. Millet and sorghum production will increase by 118.6 and 79.3 percent respectively. However, wheat production is projected to drop by 6.4 percent.”
The results also show that productions of groundnuts, beans and pigeon peas are expected to increase by 22.2, 15.0 and 19.7 percent, respectively.
“For major cash crops, tobacco production will decrease by 36.6 percent while cotton production is expected to go up by 7.6 percent.
“In terms of livestock, the population of cattle has increased from 1,470,895 to 1,508,299 representing 2.5 percent increase as compared to the final round for the 2015/16 agricultural season. The populations of goats and pigs have also increased by 5.0 percent and 14.6 percent,” reads the report.
Maganga says Fish production for capture fisheries has increased by 8.4 percent while aquaculture fish production has also increased by 46.7 percent.
According to Maganga the the overall, fish production has increased by 10.0 percent.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development annually conducts Agricultural Production Estimates Survey. The objective of the survey is to assess the country’s agricultural production to inform planning and policy direction for the nation.
The survey includes all agricultural commodities, thus, crops, livestock and fisheries. The survey is conducted in three rounds every year.
Maganga says the first round is conducted from September of the preceding year to January of the current year.
“The first round estimates are based on farmers intentions on crops to be grown and their related hectarage. The results from the first round may not conclusively inform the ultimate agricultural production as farmers intentions can change in the course of implementing respective farm activities; weather conditions and related parameters may also change in the course of the agricultural season. Nevertheless, results of the first round provide early warning signals on national food security so that policy makers in the public, private and non state sectors can make informed decisions regarding impending food situation.
The second round is conducted from February to March and focuses on verification and adjustment of area measurement for crops grown by the sampled agricultural households. Results obtained are used to determine crop area planted for the season. Results of this round are normally released in April every year.”
The PS says the third round which is normally considered as the final round is undertaken during the harvesting period from April to May.
“The third round mainly involves weighing of the harvest to obtain actual yield for crops. The third round indicates the national food basket and determines the food deficit or surplus.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :