A situation report by Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) indicates that the upcoming harvest is expected to be 35 percent below average in the Southern Region, an additional 10 percent lower than the initial estimation from the February Food Security Outlook.
According to the report, released on April 1 2022, this is due to the effects of tropical storms Ana and Gombe on top of underlying vulnerabilities and poor 2021 harvest in the region.
The projections are way higher than those estimated by President Lazarus Chakwera during his recent crop inspection tour of the Southern Region.
Chakwera said climatic shocks would reduce this year’s harvest by between 14 and 17 percent compared to last year but was quick to say there was no need to worry as the country has a surplus from the last growing season.
His sentiments were echoed by Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe, who said the maize harvest would drop by 17 percent, from 4.5 million metric tonnes (mt) last year to 3.1 million mt.
But the report notes that, in most parts of the Southern Region and some parts of the Central Region, stressed outcomes are expected due to back-to-back tropical storms
“In Nsanje and Chikwawa districts in southern Malawi, Crisis outcomes are likely to persist, given the effects of the tropical storms on top of underlying vulnerabilities and poor 2021 harvest. With the upcoming harvest, outcomes are expected to improve slightly. However, the benefits of the harvest will be brief as multiple climatic shocks and unfavorable macroeconomic conditions will limit crop production and increase food prices,” the report reads.
By September, poor and very poor households are expected to deplete own stocks and increase their reliance on markets earlier than usual, the report further notes.
Simultaneously, prices are expected to increase above seasonal trends through September, reducing financial access to food for poor households.
However, the report notes that despite an unprecedented dry start to the 2021-22 agricultural season, parts of central and most parts of the Northern Region are expected to experience minimal food insecurity outcomes.
Farmers Union of Malawi President Frighton Njolomole, while neither agreeing nor disagreeing with both estimates by the government and the network, said the union was also doing its own assessment of the crop harvest.
Njolomole, however, said Affordable Inputs Programme challenges and storms were bound to affect maize output.