Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Alfred Kapichira-Banda has asked government to provide seeds to farmers whose crops wilted during the recent dry spell which hit the country last month.
According to Kapichira-Banda, some farmers, especially in the Southern Region, who planted early lost their crop and are failing to replant because seed is expensive.
“We have received reports that some of our farmers who have been hit by the dry spell are failing to replant because they cannot afford to buy seed.
“The main problem is that seed producing companies are profit oriented and sell a 10-kilogramme [kg] pack at over K6 000 and yet when the farmer is selling his crop he sells at K200 per kg,” he said.
Kapichira-Banda said if government fails to provide seed to farmers hit by the dry spell, it means that production will go down next year and risks hunger in 2016.
“It is better to let famers grow crops on their own than give them handouts,” he said.
The FUM president also disclosed that Central Region districts of Dedza, Ntchisi and Dowa have been severely affected by the recent heavy rains and some farmers also lost their crops.
But principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Erica Maganga, said her ministry is not yet aware if famers need seed to replant because seed under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme [Fisp] has just been distributed.
“If the farmers planted very early and their crop has been destroyed then they should have subsidy seed, which we have just distributed. Over 1.5 million farmers are expected to benefit from the subsidy and if some farmers have lost their crops we are yet to be informed,” she said.
On the wash aways in the Central Region, Maganga said an assessment is currently underway and results will be known soon.
“The wash aways are an issue that falls under the Department of Disaster Management Affairs and once they have completed their assessment they will tell us how many farmers have had their crops destroyed,” said Maganga. n