Malawi is still food secure depite natural disasters which hit the country as the crop production estimates project a 3555 000 metric tonnes (MT) maize surplus, according to figures from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
Floods hit the country – following the Cyclone Idai – sweeping a lot of crops especially maize.
Speaking during a news conference in Lilongwe, Minister of Agriculture Irrigation and Water development Joseph Mwanamveka said despite the devastating floods, Malawi will still harvest 2 697 959 MT of maize.
“Nevertheless, when the floods happened, crops in most affected areas were at an advanced development stage. Hence the crops were only submerged in the waters and the loss was minimal,” said Mwanamveka.
Malawi government recently projected a maize surplus of 300 000 metric tonnes this year with first round crop estimates indicate that Malawi will harvest 3.3 million metric tonnes of maize in 2018/19.
The harvest is up from the final estimate of 2.6 million metric tonnes in 2017/18, attributed to the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) despite the initiative not yielding similar results in recent years.
The minister said the increases were made possible due to Fisp, in particular the increase in the number of beneficiaries from 900 000 in 2017/18 to one million in the 2018/19 farming season.
Mwanamveka said there is no cause for panic with the recent floods because the country is still registering the surplus maize.
The minister also attributed the projected maize surplus to good rains which enabled a good crop in maize and other crops.
“You may all agree with me that this season has generally been favourable for crop production. Cumulative rainfall performance for most parts of the country has been good this season as compared to last season. Most parts of Malawi received, and continue to receive well distributed rainfall. On average, most areas received between 400-800mm of rainfall, representing average to above average rainfall amounts,” he said.
Agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy and vital for the livelihoods of most Malawians, including national and household food security.
The sector generates around a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), accounts for 65 percent of employment and wires in around 60 percent of export earnings.
During the news conference, Mwanamveka announced that Malawi will harvest 112 313 metric tonnes of rice.
Agriculture is also critical for Malawi’s trade. While balance of trade for agricultural products is positive, the country faces a large overall trade deficit importing more than twice its exports.
While crops dominate the agricultural sector accounting for 17 percent of GDP followed by forestry at nine percent, production is concentrated on one main food crop (maize) and one main cash crop (tobacco).
Maize is by far the most dominant crop grown by almost every farmer in Malawi and accounting for about 50 percent of the entire planted area.
As the main source of food, maize has been at the centre of agricultural policies and public expenditures for decades. At the same time, the maize-centred approach to food security has contributed to a limited dietary diversity at household and national levels such that only 25 percent of the population are able to meet the dietary diversity.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :