Thousands face hunger in some Southern Malawi districts -Official

Blantyre Agricultural Development Division (BLADD) says 32 935 hectares of crops in the divison  has been severely hit by the prolonged dry spell; rendering over 129 852 families vulnerable to food insecurity.

Maize wilting due to dry spell

BLADDProgram Manager, Erick Haraman  said in an interview on Thursday  that the affected families  shuld  start planting drought resistant crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes, cowpeas and sorghum in dambo and wet areas as a mitigating measure.

He mentioned Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Neno and Mulanje as the most affected districts where maize, tobacco; legumes have permanently wilted.

Haraman said the affected total hectarage in Blantyre is 16 562, seconded by Mulanje whose affected hectarage is 7741.

In Chiradzulu, 5808 hectares have been affected while Neno has a total affected land of 3 258 hectares.

“Of course these districts have started receiving the much needed rains this week; but this is happening when the damage has already been done; hence the need for farmers to plant drought resistant crops in areas that have moisture,” said Haraman.

The Program Manager said currently key development partners such as United Purpose, World Vision Malawi, Action Aid, CADECOM, LEAD and Save the Children are on the ground with BLADD officials assessing the situation to start distributing cassava cuttings and sweet potato vines to the affected farmers.

“Development partners are on the ground assessing the situation to determine how much cassava cuttings, sweet potatoes vines and legume seeds that mature early will be required,” said Harama, adding that currently government through the Ministry of Agriculture has also procured some and will be distributed soon.

He said the BLADD in conjunction with the partners are advocating for winter cropping and investment in small scale irrigation schemes to avert hunger.

Early this week, Minister of Agriculture and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha told Parliament that about 1.9 million families would face food shortage due to the combined effects of dry spell and fall army worms in Malawi.

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