Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development on Friday unveiled a plan it believes will ensure food security in the country both on short and long-term basis.
To avoid a repeat of the hunger cycle next year, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda said on Friday that government will embark on winter cropping.
He said: “We have engaged Illovo Sugar [Malawi] Limited to embark on winter cropping. They are already into irrigation farming, but on sugar cane. But they have agreed to start maize irrigation farming just to support government.”
Chaponda also said government has budgeted about K6.8 billion to invest in irrigation farming.
He said: “We want to utilise both existing and new irrigation schemes under management of both smallholder and commercial farmers for maize production.
“Under this initiative, government already advertised for expression of interest to produce irrigated maize for sale to government to fill the strategic grain reserves.”
Malawi is reeling from a food shortage that affected 2.8 million people following a 30 percent reduction in maize harvest in 2015 following combined effects of drought and floods in January 2015.
This year, over one million people are expected to be in need of humanitarian assistance following low harvest attributed to prolonged dry spells, especially in the Southern and Central regions.
President Peter Mutharika declared the country a State of National the Disaster on April 12 and appealed for assistance from local and international well-wishers.
On the current hunger situation, Chaponda said government has instructed State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to immediately start buying maize from both smallholder farmers and traders.
He said Admarc would buy 250 000 metric tonnes using funds from the United States of America (USA) government to offset the maize production deficit. In all, he said, Malawi will import one million metric tonnes.
In terms of long-term strategy, Chaponda said from this year to 2020 government will procure, distribute and install solar pumps nationwide targeting areas where there is high potential for ground water yield.