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Maize harvest to slump

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development has conceded that Malawians will this year experience a slump in maize production and harvest less than the 3.2 million metric tonnes projected in the second round of crop estimates.

In essence, this means the staple grain’s harvest is likely to fall below the national maize requirement of 3.2 million metric tonnes.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Aggry Masi said the development is due to the twin effect of fall armyworms that devoured 140 thousand hectares of the country’s staple grain and erratic rains that affected parts of the country, particularly the Northern Region in the 2016 / 17 growing season.

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“[The] 3.2 million metric tonnes [production] was a result of the second round crop estimates but a team is already on the ground gathering data from the final estimates which will determine how much Malawi is going to harvest

“But with these fall armyworms and the late onset of rains in the Northern Region [the figure] might come down to a little less because the worms have been so devastating,” Masi said.

The deputy Agriculture Minister’s remarks vindicate the Famine Early Warning System’s April projection that the 2017 maize harvest would be less than projected.

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Malawi is the only country in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region that may record a reduced harvest.

The region’s major grain producers are expected to have surpluses, with South Africa recording maize surplus of about 17 million metric tonnes, Zambia 3,9 million, Namibia 144 000 tonnes while Zimbabwe is expecting more than 2,5 million, according to preliminary figures from Sadc.

In light of the development , experts at the Sadc Joint Extraordinary Meeting of Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Food Security, Fisheries and Aquaculture last week called on countries like Malawi to invest in building and managing strategic grain reserves.

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