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Rainy weather may affect maize harvest

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Maize under the Mzuzu and Karonga Agriculture Development Divisions (ADD) risks going bad due to a continuous downpour, which farmers warn might lead to food insecurity.

Mzimba North, Nkhata Bay, Rumphi and Karonga have been receiving rains for the past two weeks and some farmers have been forced to harvest the grain before it has completely dried.

“If I decide to harvest the maize today; how am I going to dry it with this current weather? Some of the cobs look green but inside it is ready to be harvested. This means the maize will be rotten,” Andrew Gondwe, one of the farmers from Rumphi, said.

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Karonga ADD Programmes Manager Aggrey Kamanga confirmed the development, but indicated the situation is not worrisome.

“We are still receiving rains in the areas surrounding Kapoka and some of our farmers harvested their maize before it completely dried for fear of the same problem.

“However, we are happy because the downpour will give room for irrigation farming. Remember farmers here do not prioritise maize but cash crops such as rice,” Kamanga said.

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Mzuzu ADD Programmes Manager Wellington Phewa bemoaned the persistent rains but could not give details of the affected areas.

Phewa said the division will release their second-round crop estimates report in which such issues will be communicated.

“We cannot say much because the rains are continuing in Mzuzu and other areas. However, we hope that our second-round crop estimates will have detailed information.

“It is not only the current rains that can have a negative impact to the produce but also the armyworms that also hit the division. Let us wait for second-round crop estimates which will be out soon,” Phewa said.

Both Phewa and Kamanga advised farmers to make use of the available rains for irrigation farming.

The Famine Early Warning System Network projected recently that the country would realise average harvest of three million metric tonnes of maize against the country’s requirement of 3.2 million metric tonnes.

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