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Group laments Covid effect on agriculture

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Felix Lombe

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (Cgiar), a consortium of organisations engaged in research for a food-secure future, has said Malawi is among countries where the Covid pandemic has wreaked havoc in the agriculture supply chain.

The organisation, however, recommends drastic measures towards recovery, which include the adoption of improved seed systems and implementation of climate-smart technologies on farms to increase yields going forward.

In its country note which reviews impact of the pandemic on the food system, Cgiar says, like most Southern African countries, the country’s agriculture sector was susceptible to Covid shocks.

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The organisation recommends close interaction between government partners and increased interest from non-governmental organisations and other local development partners in drawing up innovative solutions to the challenges.

It observes that agricultural production in Malawi was already challenged by factors including drought, flooding, and pest invasion, adding that the onset of Covid aggravated the sector.

“Agricultural production in Malawi faced additional challenges due to the pandemic. These include disruptions to agriculture input (fertiliser, seed, labour) and output supply chains. The pandemic has also led to higher transport costs, market price changes, and reduced incomes for farmers,” the country note reads.

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However, speaking in an interview, agriculture expert Felix Lombe said outlook of the agriculture sector remains positive.

“We are faring very well, there was a major disruption at the very beginning last year when Covid creeped in because, even at the international market, the processing capacity was negatively affected. Now life is returning to normal, a lot of manufacturing entities are operating at a good capacity, which in a way is pushing up the demand, or demand is returning to normal,” Lombe said.

He added that key international buyers in strategic countries such as China and India have been buying and stocking raw materials, either in form of food and others which may be a huge risk in the long run for developing countries such as Malawi.

Cgiar is a global partnership that unites international organisations engaged in research about food and security, and has a presence in 108 countries.

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