Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza, has said that the 2014/2015 agricultural season for maize production has decreased with 27.7 percent.

Speaking in Lilongwe, Tuesday, during a press briefing, the Minister said the decline was a result of floods and prolonged dry spell that has hit the country.

He said the results of the second round survey showed that maize production decreased from 3,978,123 to 2,898,123 metric tons as the maize requirement for the country is 3 million, metric tons.

“The implication of the reduction in maize production is that the country will have a maize deficit of 123,340 metric tons, but this figure will be confirmed after the third round estimates,” said Chiyembekeza.

He also said that the ministry, with aid from World Bank Multi-Donor Trust amounting to k401 million is currently implementing the growing of cassava and sweet potatoes as a response to the floods and dry spells as well as distribution of sweet potato bundle and cassava cuttings to affected households.

“The Ministry jointly with development partners, NGOs and private sector are supporting smallholder farmers with potential for irrigation with various inputs to commerce irrigation farming,” said the Minister.

He went on to say that the current net maize stock level at the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) was at 46.000 metric tons since 14,000 metric tons was already released from SGR to help flood victims and this has since alleviate fears some quarters that government intends to source all planned stocks of maize through importation from outside the country that would lead to denying a markets to local maize suppliers.

”Government has set aside about K 8.5 billion to buy maize, but the money is not adequate,” he said.

The food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has since helped with 285,000 metric tons of early maturing and drought tolerant maize seed, 320 treadle pumps as well as 140 metric tons of fertilizer are being distributed and 3,300 goat and 5000 chickens and guinea fowls will also be provided to farmers and 643 metric tons of D Compound fertilizer is being distributed by the Ministry.

ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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