University of Leeds environmentalist blames Malawi’s food crisis on maize production overemphasis

Environmental scientist and executive dean in the Faculty of Environment and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, Professor Andy Dougill, has attributed the current food crisis facing Malawi on the country’s overemphasis on maize production.

Professor Andy Dougill form Leeds University delivering his keynote address at Cisanet conference
Kuwali: Its unfortunate that agriculture sector is not registering growth

Professor Andy Dougill having an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times reporter Watipatso Mzungu in Lilongwe

Dougill said it is quite strange that even government is forcing maize production in areas where maize has completely to give out the much-desired yield.

He challenged that even the huge investment government is making in the agriculture sector through the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) will not help the country move out of annual food insecurity unless government helps the farmers to diversify.

Dougill made the remarks in response to a questionnaire from Nyasa Times on where Malawi might have gotten things wrong to deserve perennial hunger amidst abundance of resources and freshwaters in rivers, streams and lakes.

The earth scientist was also scheduled to make a keynote speech at the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) Strategic Plan in Lilongwe.

“In some places such as particular Balaka in the South where rainfall is annually erratic, maize production becomes a big challenge. That is one of the areas where overemphasis on maize production poses a serious challenge. And really in terms of climate change, the South is better suited for sorghum and millet production while the North can be used for rice production. So, what we need to do is to diversify the agricultural system across Malawi,” he said.

He said authorities need to first understand the challenges that accrue from climate change in order to address issues that affect food and nutrition production.

Dougill recommended that government should focus on use of improved seed and right fertilisers.

CisaNet national director Pamela Kuwali said it is a pity that the agriculture sector continues to post losses despite the huge investment government and the development partners are making into it.

Kuwali said there is need to develop innovative farming technologies and approaches that could lead to improved crop yields.

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