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AGRICULTURE

In Spite Of Cyclone Idai: Malawi Maize Output Up 24%

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Malawi’s maize output increased by just over 24 per cent in the 2018/19 farming year so far, boosted by favourable weather conditions and government subsidies, the agriculture minister said on Tuesday.

Joseph Mwanamvekha said production rose to 3.355 million metric tonnes from 2.697 million metric tonnes in the 2017/18 farming season, according to the second round of the 2018/19 Agricultural Production Estimate Survey.

Malawi, along with its neighbours Mozambique and Zimbabwe, were hit in March by floods linked to Cyclone Idai, which killed hundreds of people in those countries.

Mwanamvekha said that while the floods had damaged livestock, crops, fisheries and irrigation infrastructure, crops in most affected areas were at “an advanced physiological development stage,” meaning that the loss was minimal.

“Despite the floods which occurred in the southern region districts, the general picture is that crop production will increase significantly over last season and (the) five-year average on all commodities except cotton and wheat,” he said in a statement.

He said cumulative rainfall performance for most parts of the country had been good this season compared to last season, while government subsidies to farms also helped lift production.

In February, the government had estimated production of 3.387 million metric tonnes in the 2018/19 season, which ends in May.

Maize is a staple crop in the southern African nation of 19 million people.

He added that the government plans to distribute maize seed and sweet potato vines to affected farming households shortly.

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