The anticipated decline in the production of essential food and cash crop could likely reduce rural household income generation and limit their households’ financial access to food, the Famine and Early Warning Systems (Fewsnet) has warned.
In its recently published May 2022 food security update for Malawi, the United States Agency for International Development funded activity warned this could result in an earlier than normal increase in market reliance amid rising food prices.
Reads the report in part: “Despite entering the post-harvest period, food prices continue to be atypically high due to several factors, including below-average harvest, the government’s announcement of a higher farm gate price, and a general increase in goods and food commodities prices.
“Overall, the higher-than-average food prices and reduced income coupled with the expected earlier-than-normal increase in market reliance is likely to severely limit rural households’ financial access to food, especially in the Southern Region.”
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS) second-round production results, Malawi is expected to realiSe a below-average harvest for essential food and cash crops due to poor rainfall performance, multiple tropical storms, and limited supply access to agricultural inputs.
According to the report, food crop production is expected to be below the five-year average for maize (13 percent below), rice (seven percent below), sweet potatoes (14 percent below) and beans (35 percent).
Further, cash crop production, such as tobacco and cotton, is reported to be 38 percent and 36 percent below average, respectively.
Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu is on record as having said that the drop in maize production will have a less impact on food security because the country was expecting to harvest over 3.8 million metric tonnes [MT], but only needed about 2.9 million MT for consumption.
“We are still hoping that we will have excess,” he said.
Agriculture policy analyst Tamani Nkhono-Mvula earlier said government needed to quickly consider releasing funds to State grain produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and National Food Reserve Agency to start buying maize in good time.
However, Admarc is yet to start purchasing maize.
Meanwhile, maize prices continue to rise, now fetching K260 per kilogramme or to K13 000 per 50 kg bag in some produce markets, K30 above government’s set minimum price of K220 per kg.
In the 2020/21 agriculture season final crop estimates, maize production was estimated at 4 581 524 MT, while for the 2019/20, maize production was estimated at 3 785 712 MT.