Malawi will see a “substantial decrease” in the maize harvest of its staple maize crop in 2015 due to a combination of floods and drought, Agriculture Minister Allan Chiyembekeza said on Wednesday.
Malawi, which had a bumper crop of 3.9 million tonnes in 2014 and a surplus of over a million tonnes, has experienced torrential rains, forcing its government to declare half of the country a disaster zone. Crops were damaged in the floods.
“The country will experience a substantial decrease of the harvest because of the recent floods that washed away thousands of crop fields and some dry spells experienced in some parts of the country,” Chiyembekeza told Reuters.
He could not give a specific estimate, saying his department is still accessing the damage.
“We are finalising everything and we will soon come up with the final crop estimate soon,” he said.
If Malawi recorded a deficit and needed to import, it could turn to neighbouring Zambia, which expects a record harvest with plans to export 800,000 tonnes of white maize.
Regional breadbasket South Africa, by contrast, expects to harvest 9.666 million tonnes of both white and yellow maize, over 30 percent less than the 2014 harvest and the smallest since 2007, so it is unlikely to be in a position to export significant quantities to neighbours.
Floods earlier this year in Malawi killed more than 100 people and left 173 missing. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in February said more than 300,000 people had been displaced.