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Post-harvest losses surge

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An Emergency Agriculture and Food Security Surveillance System Bulletin by Food and Agriculture organisation (Fao) indicate that post-harvest losses remain high.

Fao says the extent of post-harvest losses have been deteriorating with nearly 20 percent of households reporting almost half of their produce getting damaged.

The 2020 maize output stands at around 3.7 million tonnes which is nine percent above the outturn in 2019.

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Post-harvest loss is mainly due to pests, early or late harvest, lack of storage and lack of enough labour supply.

“The extent of post-harvest losses, especially on groundnuts has been deteriorating with nearly 20 percent of households reporting almost half of the produce got damaged or lost from 15 percent three weeks ago.

“Households have slowly been resulting to adopting some negative coping mechanisms especially households in the Southern Region,” reads the report in part.

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According to the report, highest percentage of losses was recorded in Chikwawa, Nkhotakota, Phalombe, Karonga, Mangochi and Mulanje out of the 18 districts which are understudy.

Though the report is not explicit on how much this means in monetary value, in 2019 Farmers Organisation Limited projected that Malawi could lose K100 billion in post-harvest losses in maize alone last year.

While acknowledging that the problem of post-harvest losses is huge in Malawi, spokesperson in the Ministry of Agriculture, Priscilla Mateyu, said the ministry is putting in place measures to reduce the damage.

Mateyu said, among other things, the ministry is encouraging farmers to take good care of their harvests by applying the right chemicals as well as encouraging them to use improved varieties.

“We are also encouraging farmers to use silos or granaries which have been well constructed and disinfected with control chemicals. We are also aware that this time around we have Pics bags which we encouraging the farmers to use them,

“We are also constructing roads in some districts so that farmers have easy access to markets to sell their produce they are lost,” he said.

Meanwhile, the report also notes a two percent increase in the average price of Maize and Irish-potatoes compared to the week ending on May 31 2020.

“The average price of maize per kilogramme was estimated at K162.89 and this is a 2 percent increase from K159.53 per kg recorded in the week ending on May 31. In the same period, the prices of groundnuts and rice fell by 3 percent and 1 percent respectively,” reads the report.

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