The report by the Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) which indicates that Malawi will harvest nearly three million metric tonnes of maize is good news to the country which is coming out of a severe food shortage.
This is good news because the projected maize harvest is 700,000 tonnes above the 2.3 million metric tonnes that were earlier made.
However, the country needs to celebrate this new forecast with a lot of caution. This is so because the projected harvest is still below the national requirement which is at 3.2 million metric tonnes.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the low yields. Chief among the reasons is the erratic rainfall which the country has experienced for the past three growing seasons. The other factors are corruption that riddled the Farm Input Subsidy Programme as well as pests that attacked the crop before and after harvesting.
Had it not been for the donor support and the contributions by several other non-state actors in efforts to ensure that Malawians had enough food, 6.5 million Malawians would have suffered one of the worst food crises in recent memory.
This is why we are calling upon the government and all stakeholders to ensure that the country protects its maize harvest so as to avert a looming hunger. We recognise the step taken by President Peter Mutharika to deploy soldiers to patrol our national borders against maize smuggling.
But such preventive measures must be accompanied by other initiatives such as scaling up measures to reduce post-harvest losses of the crop.
The prediction by Fewsnet that people in the Lower Shire areas risk continued food shortage should also give us food for thought. Government should lead in programmes to enhance irrigation farming to ensure adequate availability of food in the country.
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