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Sunday, 02 September 2018 12:23

'Blantyre’s 2017/18 maize harvest drops by half'

Written by  Rodney Majawa
Women harvesting maize - File Photo Women harvesting maize - File Photo

Blantyre, September 1, 2018: Blantyre Agricultural Development Division (BLADD) Programme Manager, Erick Haraman has said the maize harvest decrease in Blantyre could largely be attributed to persistent dry spell and army worm attacks in the district between December, 2017 and January 2018.

Speaking during the launch of 2018/19 manure making campaign and winter cropping, Haraman said during the 2017/18 growing season third-round crop estimates, the district recorded 47,000 metric tonnes (MT) as opposed to 97,000 MT during the 2016/17 estimates over the same period.

“This means that an estimated 70 per cent of subsistence farmers have not been able to produce sufficient staple food and surplus for commercial purposes.

“However, the entire division is grateful to the line ministry’s and its key stakeholders’ timely intervention in providing sweet potato vines and cassava cuttings to replace maize that faced permanent wilting.

“As such, both subsistence and agro-business farmers are continuously being urged to adopt modern farming technologies and irrigation farming to build resilience,” Haraman said.

On his part, Blantyre District Council Chairperson, Jeremiah Jumbe said it was pleasing to note that communities in badly hit extension planning areas (EPAs) such as Kunthembwe and Lirangwe resolved to adopt new farming methodologies and skills introduced by the district agricultural development office.

Jumbe, therefore, appealed to surrounding communities to emulate the good farming methods being practiced in the affected EPAs in the district to avert hunger.

One of the lead farmers from Mpasa Village in the area of Traditional Authority Lundu, Margaret Batumeyo, told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the use of soils, ashes and other locally available resources other than artificial and exorbitant chemicals shall completely wipe out food insecurity in her area.

Batumeyo also disclosed that using manure made with guidance from agricultural extension workers has enabled her to harvest surplus maize from a small piece of land which she said would sustain her household general livelihood for the year round.

She, therefore, encouraged other subsistence farmers to embrace modern methods of farming if they are to completely beat the effects of climate change in the affected EPAs.

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