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Dry spells worrisome, government claims to be on top of things

As fears continue to grow over dry spells that are threatening food productivity this season, Network of Agriculture NGO’s, Civil Society Agriculture Network( Cisanet) has urged authorities to start working out plans on how to deal with the situation as a matter of urgency.

Currently, some parts of the country have had no rains for over two weeks now, raising fears of another disaster.

Already 2.8 million people face starvation in 25 of the 28 country’s districts according to Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) and government needs over K20 billion to provide them with food up to next harvest in April.

According Cisanet National Coordinator Tamani Nkhono -Mvula, the outlook for this year’s crop production should be a cause for worry.

“As of now we have these food gaps that we are experiencing that came because of challenges we had last year and this year, so if we are going to have another period of drought this year, that it should expound the problem quite a lot,” said Nkhono-Mvula in an interview with The Sunday Times.

“So we need to start coming up with programmes and ways so that if we have hunger like last year we should such as winter-cropping and liaising with other countries for imports and other things,” he added.

Nkhono-Mvula added that the situation is a wakeup call to start planning for what may come in August or September.

But Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Erica Maganga has given assurances that government is on top of things saying it is already working with a number of NGO’s to avert the problem.

Said Maganga: “We are yet to do an assessment of the dry spells and our ADDs[Agriculture Development Divisions] are working on that, but government together with NGO’s[Nongovernmental Organisations] have secured $2.5 million under Multi Donor Trust Fund and we are distributing sweet potatoes vines and cassava cuttings especially to people who were affected by the floods last year, others are being given money.”

“We have also raised another $15 million with Agriculture cluster members and the members are also distributing Maize seed Sorghum and other dry resistant crops,” added Maganga.

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