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Mixed outlook for agriculture sector

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Gracian Lungu

Results of the first round crop estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture show that there will be a mixed performance in agriculture sector with expected variations commodities output.

For example, output for maize—the country’s staple crop— is expected to decline by at least 14 percent to 3.8 million metric tonnes (mt) from 4.5 million mt in 2021.

Rice production is also expected to decline to 145,000 mt from 155,000 mt, representing a 6 percent drop.

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However production of leguminous crops such as soya and groundnuts is expected to rise.

The figures show that Soya is expected to reach 302 thousand mt from 264 thousand mt in 2021 representing a 14 percent increase, Sesame will reach 6644 mt from 5873 Mt representing a 13 percent rise while groundnuts is projected to reach 411 thousand mt from 402 thousand mt reflecting a 2.2 percent rise.

Livestock production is also expected to boom in most species, for example, cattle is projected to increase by 3.5 percent, goats by 9 percent, pigs by 6.9 percent and sheep by 4 percent.

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But chicken production is expected to decline by 9 percent to 196 million from 216 million in 2021.

In an interview, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Grecian Lungu confirmed the development but was quick to say the ministry will announce tangible figures once the third round crop study is done and estimates produced.

He added that there should be no alarm on the food situation as aggregates are made from all produces and stocks which are all positive.

“For us to be food secure we need 2.8 million MT but when we are preparing the food balance sheet we incorporate all the food crops so if we are projecting maize to reach 3.8 million and on top of that we will add in the basket other food crops it means we will already surpass the food requirement,” Lungu said.

In an earlier interview, agriculturalist Leonard Chimwaza emphasised the needed for sustainable agricultural production that address climate change.

He said Malawi needs to embrace issues of climate change and produce and implement plans that are aligned to the climate change resilience and mitigation to sustain let alone increase agriculture production.

“We also need to make financing easily accessible by both smallholder and commercial farmers. With good financing in the agriculture subsector, farmers can be able to access good quality inputs, machinery and extension services hence aiding exportation of the products,” Chimwaza said.

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