Malawi is expected to produce about 3,691,866 metric tonnes of maize this season, up from 3,391,924 metric tonnes produced during the 2018/2019 season, the government’s first round crop estimates show.
This represents an 8.8 percent surge in output of the country’s staple crop. The estimated increase is attributed to favourable weather conditions and increased uptake of inputs by farmers.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development spokesperson, Priscilla Mateyu expressed optimism that this would be attainable if the current rainfall pattern continues until end of March.
However, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture has since cautioned the government to move quickly this season in ensuring that farmers are protected.
Vice Chairperson of the committee, Ulemu Chilapondwa said in previous years, Malawi has been having bumper yield but millions of Malawians continue to face hunger because the government fails to plan on how to protect the yield from unscrupulous vendors.
“This bumper yield will not be of importance if vendors continue buying crops at low prices. Most farmers grow maize and some cash crops, and when they do not fetch good prices for cash crops, they opt to selling Maize, which in the end creates food shortage,” he said.
Commenting in an interview yesterday, agriculture expert, Tamani Nkhono Mvula said it was too early to conclude as weather pattern can change.
He then urged the government to mobilise funds for Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), and the National Food Reserve Agency to buy maize from the farmers as in good time.
“Parliament must try to find money for Admarc and NFRA to start buying maize at least by May this year. Failing which, the bumper yield might end up to the advantage of vendors who can decide either to sell it within or outside the country,” Mvula said.
Last year, the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee estimated that about 1 million people were food insecure.
However the figure was revised upwards to around 1.8 million. Meanwhile, rice production is estimated to increase by 9.8 percent this year while millet output is expected to rise by 8.9 percent. Sorghum output is projected to rise by 3 percent.
Estimates for legumes such as groundnuts, soya, pigeon peas and beans have also seen been projected at an increase of 9.15 percent.
Cotton production has been estimated to double from 25,331 metric tonnes in 2018/2019 to 52,389 metric tonnes.