Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum) and agriculturalist Leonard Chimwaza have tipped the Ministry of Agriculture to focus on winter cropping as a food security measure this year.
The advice follows hitches in the current Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) and delayed onset of rains which are threatening agriculture production.
The current AIP has been characterised by delayed redemption of inputs which agriculture analysts believe is not in line with the agricultural calendar.
Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that, as of Tuesday, January 25, redemption rate for NPK and Urea fertilisers was at 63 percent.
Fum President Frighton Njolomole said progress was slow but expressed hope, saying the delayed rains could be a blessing in disguise.
However, he indicated that the unpredictability of rains may render the country food insecure; therefore, irrigation provides the best solution.
“We are a country with so much water sources that we should not be depending on rain-fed agriculture alone; therefore, government should intensify irrigation for food security and commercial purposes,” Njolomole said.
His remarks were shared by agricultural expert Leonard Chimwaza, who described the AIP redemption rate as not impressive.
He said people have already planted and some crops have passed the stage to apply NPK fertiliser.
“It will be a wise decision if government starts winter cropping somewhere in April because we should think of what will become of a farmer who is yet to receive the inputs,” Chimwaza said.
Ministry of Agriculture Public Relations Officer Graciun Lungu said, despite the perceived delay, the redemption of inputs is progressing well and the country will have a smooth farming season like last year.
“The strategy is now in its final stage and, once it is done and funding has been allocated to it, irrigation in Malawi will no longer be the same,” Lungu said.
Malawi depends on rain-fed agriculture which agriculturalists have described as outdated to change the agriculture sector for food security and commercial purposes.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.