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Firm sees stable food availability

REMAIN HIGH—Maize supplies

Tamani Nkhono Mvula

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews- Net) has projected stable availability of food in the country in the short to medium terms owing to a possible rise in output this year.

In its recent food availability report, Fews-Net says rural areas across the country will have stable food supply to at least January 2022 due to availability of food and income following a second consecutive above-average production this year.

This, according to the network, is, however, with the exception of some households in the Shire Valley Livelihood Zone districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa, who are expected to exhaust food stocks earlier due to the impacts of dry spells experienced this season.

The report says, in urban areas, the low-income households impacted by Covid-related reductions in income earning in 2020 are expected to transition to minimal food insecurity outcomes in July 2021 alongside increased economic activity in the post-harvest period.

However, during this time, some households who work in construction, manufacturing and general trading are expected to face reduced income-earning due to the impacts of recent border closures on trade.

“Overall, however, impacts on income-earning among urban households are not currently expected to be as severe as in 2020, though increasing Covid cases and resumptions of control measures could change the scenario,” the report reads.

This follows the country’s above-average production of food crops in the main harvest season.

Contrarily, many of the cash crops displayed under-average performance.

The production of the main cash crops is expected to be lower than last season and significantly below the five-year average.

Production of cotton, another key cash crop, is expected to be 54 percent below last year and 25 percent below the five-year average according to Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security second round production estimates.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Grecian Lungu said the country made strides towards sustainable food security.

“We have also made strides in soya beans, especially in pricing, as the proceeds of soya this year surpass those for last year though production only increased by 0.02 percent, from 264,372 metric tonnes (mt) in 2019/20 season to 264, 497mt this farming season,” Lungu said.

He added that the ministry is expecting more stabilised prices for maize and for farmers to grow more cash crops like soya beans as they have proved to be a game changer this year.

Agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula rates the maize harvest this year as positive.

“Official crop estimates are also showing a considerable food surplus; this is mainly as a result of public sector investments such as Affordable Inputs Programme, but also good weather in most parts of the country. Going forward, we expect a reduction in incidences of hunger as compared to other years, reduced food prices and several other multiplier effect that come with food security,” Mvula said.

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