Floods have destroyed about 16 000 hectares (ha) in Shire Valley Agriculture Development Division (ADD), raising fears of hunger in the two districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa.
In an interview on Monday, Shire Valley ADD programme manager Taurai Mlewah said an assessment by the division shows that 7 711 ha of maize were affected, representing 15 percent of the total 49 744 ha planted.
He said about 2 741 ha of rice were also affected, representing 39 percent of the total 7 072 ha planted.
The assessment also shows that floods damaged 2 464 ha of sorghum out of 24 884 ha and 3 253 ha of out 26 391 ha of millet. About 163 ha of cotton were also affected out of 17859 ha.
On affected livestock, Mlewah said about 60 cows, 2 968 goats, 144 pigs and 12 272 chickens got washed away by floods.
Initially, the ADD had projected a maize production increase by 99 percent to 134 597 metric tonnes (MT) from 67 360 MT in the previous season.
“Even though the percentages are not that much, the impact will be enormous. Any change above five percent in production is huge.
“Some crops are rotting while in the fields. For this, we expect a 20 to 30 percent loss in production,” said Mlewah who encouraged farmers to embrace winter cropping.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development spokesperson Hamilton Chimala appealed to farmers to plant legumes, tubers and vines such as potato and cassava.