Bloomberg News

Malawi’s Farm Output May Be Hindered by Late Rains, Union Says

January 09, 2012

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Late rains in Malawi may reduce the country’s agricultural production, according to the southeast African country’s Farmers Union.

Rains in the southern African nation, which usually start between October and November, have only just come to several districts and some farmers have pulled up plantings, the union said.

“Malawi’s southern region will be affected most because this is the area where rains come first,” Felix Jumbe, the union’s president, said in an interview today in the capital, Lilongwe. “We have received reports that some farmers from the region uprooted seedlings due to wilting.”

President Bingu wa Mutharika last week said hunger may loom because of a poor crop outlook. The country needs a recovery plan, Jumbe said. “The farmers who have uprooted their seedlings must be helped quickly,” he said. “We also need to plan on which crops to promote in the wake of adverse weather conditions,” Jumbe said, adding that now that rains have started, “there is hope the impact will be minimal.”

It’s too early to predict agricultural production losses, Secretary for Agriculture Erica Maganga said today by phone from Lilongwe.

“We will carry out crop estimates sometime in April,” Maganga said. “That is the only time we will know how much damage the rains have caused on agriculture production.”

Malawi relies on tobacco for 60 percent of its foreign exchange earnings, with tea the second-largest earner. Corn is the country’s staple food.

--Editors: John Deane, Alastair Reed

-0- Jan/09/2012 10:38 GMT

To contact the reporter on this story: Frank Jomo in Blantyre via Johannesburg at fjomo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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