LILONGWE (Reuters) – Malawi is expected to harvest 3.8 million tonnes of maize this year, up from 3.5 million reaped in the previous year, despite some dry periods during the season, President Bingu wa Mutharika said on Monday.

Malawi introduced a fertiliser and seed subsidy programme in 2004 and since then has recorded consecutive bumper harvests of maize, the country’s staple food.

The increased output has also helped drive unprecedented economic growth above 7 percent over the past five years.

“Despite the dry spells experienced in some parts of the country in the course of this year’s cropping season, we expect yet another bumper harvest with an estimated yield of 3.8 million tonnes of maize representing an estimated surplus of 1.2 million tonnes,” Mutharika told parliament when he opened the budget session.

He said that production of other crops is expected to increase this year as well, with rice output expected to increase by 12 percent to 123,000 tonnes, cassava by 8 percent to 4.3 million tonnes and sweet potatoes by 14 percent to 3.3 million tonnes.

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