State President His Excellency Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has implored upon local farmers to grow more crops all year-round as one easy way of averting persistent hunger and transitioning to commercial farming.
The President was speaking at Luchenza Municipality on Monday when he addressed a developmental rally after inspecting crops in Thyolo District in the areas of Traditional Authorities Mchiramwera, Ngolongoliwa and Nanseta.
This was the commencement of a national crop inspection tour being undertaken by the Malawi leader.
Crop inspection tours were introduced and managed as a yearly rite by the country’s founding President, Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda in the early days of his rule up to when he left office in the early 90s.
President Chakwera pointed out climate change as a major factor that should inform changes in how local farmers practice their venture.
“You may have noticed that climate change effects such as natural disasters and erratic rainfall patterns have had a huge negative impact on our yields these past years. It is time our farmers started growing a variety of crops all year round using technologies such as irrigation,” said President Chakwera.
The tea growing districts have been renowned for banana production, an attribute President Chakwera said must be harnessed because it speaks into the competencies of farmers in Thyolo, Mulanje, Phalombe and Chiradzulu districts.
The President asked the Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe, to ensure that banana farmers are helped with new disease-resistant banana crop to maximize production and give people a decent living in the focus districts.
On the necessity of inspecting crops across the country, the President said he wanted to have firsthand information on how the Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) is being implemented on the ground.
“I wanted to see for myself and get instant feedback on what is happening within the Agricultural sector. This approach will help us refine the program where necessary and deploy new tactics to find lasting solutions. We will be able to clearly see the production trajectory from one year to another,” he said.
According to estimates from Ministry of Agriculture, Malawi is this year expected to produce 3.1 million metric tonnes of maize against last year’s 4.5 million metric tonnes. Minister of Agriculture says they are not despairing because the estimated figure is still higher than the 2.6 million metric tonnes acquired in 2019 and that the deficit will be covered by last year’s surplus.
President Chakwera also expressed his desire to see Agriculture become a pillar of local manufacturing industry through value addition initiatives both at small and large scale. This, he said, will help create sustainable jobs among locals.
To rectify this year’s problems around AIP, Ministry of Agriculture is considering implementing next year’s program using cooperatives.
The President heads to Zomba and Mangochi next for a similar exercise.