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Malawi to turn to traditional cereal crops for food security

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Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Allan Chiyembeza has backed the idea to revert to drought-tolerant cereal crops like sorghum amidst the food shortage the country is facing.

Speaking in an interview after he opened an International Workshop on the Enhancement of National Agriculture Extension Services (Enaes) and the Publication of Agricultural Practices and Calendars of major food crops (Papc) in Blantyre on Wednesday, Chiyembekeza bemoaned the little attention given to sorghum compared to maize.

He said the development has exposed the country to food insecurity that in some cases is hard to control considering that it is driven by some natural phenomena.

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“Government gave much attention to maize in the past compared to these drought tolerant cereals. Maize was being grown even in areas where it does not do well.

“With issues of climate change, we need as a country to revert to these crops that do well even in cases where rainfall appears to be a challenge,” said Chiyembekeza.

The objective of the workshop is to share experiences and develop strategies for the future regarding various projects.

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Malawi is one of the 10 countries implementing Enaes with financial support from Kafaci, a Korean intergovernmental body which also provides technical expertise to African countries to boost Africa’s food security.

Kafaci is supporting 100 families in Nsanje engaged in sorghum production in the district with the aim of proving the productivity of the crop among smallholder farmers.

Chiyembekeza said during the opening of the workshop that ever since the project started in 2013, sorghum production has improved.

“It is impressive that despite the natural disasters that Nsanje faces, the production has increased from 300 to 1,000 kilogrammes. Government has put in place measures to upscale the production of root and tuber crops as well as drought resistant crops that are now being included on the agenda of the ministry,” said Chiyembekeza.

He said crop diversification into traditional crops like sorghum is essential if member countries can ably fight food insecurity.

Korean Ambassador to Malawi Yongkyu Kwon observed that Agriculture remains the engine of the many African countries as it contributes to employment and boosts the economy.

“Kafaci member states should continue to direct energies at adopting appropriate and region-specific technologies and increase farmers’ participation at country level by disseminating useful information and agriculture materials,” he said.

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