HomeNational NewsNational27 hectares of maize dry in Balaka

27 hectares of maize dry in Balaka

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At least 109,340 farmers are likely to be in critical food insecurity in Balaka following the 33-day dry spell the district has experienced due to El Nino weather pattern which affected most districts in Malawi.

Since the onset of the rainy season, Balaka has been receiving erratic rainfall which negatively affected maize production, the main food crop, and alternative food crops.

Presenting a dry spell report for March to members of the District Agricultural Extension Coordinating Committee (DAECC) Senior Agriculture Officer, Samuel Chinkhadze said, the total hectares of the maize crop in the district during the 2023/2024 agricultural season was 95,073.8.

“Out of the total hectares 72,375.9 has been affected with 27,771.1 completely dying. Currently, some farmers are harvesting their crop straight from the garden to the maize mill as they do not have food. This means a lot more people will be food insecure soon,” said Chinkhadze.

He, therefore, asked various stakeholders to join hands with the agriculture office in helping the affected families to go for irrigation farming which is the immediate solution.

“Balaka has a total of 1351.5 hectares of land potential for irrigation, 666 hectares of which is currently irrigable and operational. It is recommended to provide farm inputs to those farmers that have access to irrigation water sources,” he said.

He said farmers should only plant drought tolerant and early maturing crop varieties considering that most of the potential irrigation sites might not have adequate moisture or water reserves.

Dry maize in Balaka leaving farming families food insecure. Pic, Mary Makhiringa (Mana)

Project Officer for Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD), who is also Balaka DAECC Chairperson, Mercy Chakoma, said CARD was ready to support the affected farming farmers.

“We have planned to support 600 families in our catchment area and Nkaya will be involved in small scale irrigation. Even without this report, we already knew that there was need for irrigation farming due to how the maize crop fared.

“We will also provide solar mobile pumps to help in irrigation. Communities will also be assisted to rehabilitate shallow wells to make their water points reliable,” she said.

Chakoma disclosed that affected farmers will also be provided with small livestock as a backup in case irrigation farming fails to work.

She, therefore, called upon other stakeholder to come forward and assist the affected farmers with various alternative interventions in the face of food insecurity.

Recently, President Dr Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of disaster in 23 districts in the county including Balaka.

The President called upon development partners and other well-wishers to come forward and assist with relief food.

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