A recent report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) has predicted severe food insecurity in Malawi and Southern Africa at large, during the 2016/2017 consumption year.
The report comes few weeks after the 2015/16 Agricultural Production Estimates Survey (Apes) results of the first round, projected this year’s national maize production at 2 719 425 metric tonnes (MT), two percent lower than last year’s final round estimate of 2 776 277 MT.
Released on March 18, the report said the size of the food insecure population is likely to double as compared to current levels due to severity of the 2015-16 drought related to the on-going El Nino phenomenon across the Southern Africa.
“Malawi and other Southern countries such as Zambia will have limited crop production in the 2015/2016 harvesting season and this will exacerbate the current food shortage,” reads part of the report:
According to the report, while April/May harvests will provide some temporary relief, food insecurity during the 2016/17 consumption year is expected to be severe.
“During the major agricultural season for the region which runs from October/November through April rainfall had reduced to less than 75 percent of average, one of the five driest seasons in the past 35 years.
“Even though the 2014/15 rainfall was near normal in some areas like Zimbabwe, central Mozambique, southern Malawi, and parts of southern Zambia, the distribution of this rainfall over the season was so poor that crops were negatively affected,” the report adds.
Commenting on the findings, Cisanet Chief National Coordinator, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said the country needs to intensify winter cropping to supplement the harvest.
“To be forewarned is to be forearmed. This is a wakeup call for us to put in place measures that will divert the crisis that we are anticipating this year.
“Government has been talking to the private sector to do irrigation
farming, we hope the initiative will start this year or else government
should liaise with those private sector companies that already have the
capacity to do irrigation,” said Nkhono-Mvula.
He also challenged farmers to intensify food production in dambo lands.
Early last year, a report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) indicated that over 2.8 million people were in need of food aid in 25 districts of the country.