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Karonga, Nsanje to face food shortage

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Although the main harvest period in Malawi, which runs from April to June is on, some parts of Nsanje and Karonga will remain food insecure until September this year, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity, indicates.

Without specifying the estimated number of people that still face food stress, the network has attributed the situation to the phasing out of food assistance.

Officials at council level in the two districts have since concurred with Fewsnet’s outlook update for the month of April -2017 which, on a brighter side, indicates reduced food insecurity in parts of the Central and Southern regions.

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“The start of the main harvest in the south and some parts of the central region is contributing to minimal acute food security outcomes across most of the country.

“However, some populations in Nsanje and Karonga districts are facing stressed food security outcomes, in the absence of humanitarian assistance. These projected outcomes are expected through September 2017,” reads the update in part.

Apart from the first round crop outlook report, the Ministry of Agriculture has not released the second round crop estimates for the 2016/17 growing season.

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Fewsnet’s outlook report, however, quotes the ministry indicating that “the average crop production projected in the first round crop estimates in March will be maintained.”

Karonga District Agriculture Development Officer, Raphael Mkisi, agreed with the network’s observation saying some of the families in the district will not harvest enough due to dry weather situation in some parts and the proliferation of armyworms that ravaged the maize crop in the fields.

“Most fields were attacked by armyworms and there were sporadic dry spells that affected crops. This, we believe, will affect the district’s harvest,” Mkisi said.

Nsanje District Commissioner, Gift Rapozo, said though people are anticipating reduced harvests, the situation will not reach desperate levels in terms of food.

“Maize crop production has reduced indeed but it is not serious. This is because most schemes are already into irrigation farming. It’s just a few families that will be affected but we are not desperate,” Rapozo said.

The network projected in March that the country would realise average maize harvest of nearly three million metric tonnes despite receiving enough rains.

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