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Lazarus Chakwera upbeat on food situation

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Lobin Lowe

President Lazarus Chakwera Wednesday said this year’s maize yield will drop by an average of 14 percent due to tropical storms Ana and Gombe, which hit some parts of the Southern Region.

He, however, said, despite the challenges, Malawi would produce enough food.

Chakwera made the remarks in Mangochi District at a development rally he addressed after inspecting crops in Mchisa Village, Traditional Authority Mponda, in the district.

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He said, apart from natural disasters, crop production had been hampered by technical challenges that marred the flagship Affordable Inputs Programs (AIP), which saw an average of 78 percent of farmers redeeming their inputs across the country.

“But this doesn’t mean that we are completely worse in maize production. We will be able to produce more than last year. So, let me warn people against spreading false information about our food situation which can, in the end, affect planning at the household level,” he said.

Chakwera said his administration did not expect to encounter similar challenges when implementing this year’s AIP because the changes in the financial calendar have provided the Ministry of Agriculture with enough time to prepare and execute the government’s flagship programme, which aims at eliminating hunger in Malawi.

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The President also indicated that the government would capitalise on commercial irrigation to shore up food production.

“The eastern region was supposed to be the food basket of the country because it has water bodies which can be used for large-scale irrigation and fish farming. But the region has been under utilised. It is our wish to revamp irrigation schemes which are available in the region to solve the food situation available in the country,” he said

Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe said maize production in Mangochi, a district that has about 1.3 million people, had declined by six percent this year due to Tropical Storm Ana-induced damage.

Lowe was, however, optimistic that the deficit would be covered through irrigation in the already established schemes. In total, the eastern region has about 1,377 irrigation schemes that have been earmarked for winter cropping.

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