Thursday, July 18, 2024

Malawi Pres. Chakwera to Seek Advice on Declaring Maize as Protected Crop from AG Thabo

AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda

President Lazarus Chakwera has expressed his intention to seek counsel from Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda regarding the potential declaration of maize as a protected crop in Malawi.

This decision follows a proposal by Member of Parliament for Kasungu North Constituency, Mike Bango, who believes that such a measure would assist the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) in ensuring adequate maize stocks by enabling it to become the sole purchaser of the crop from farmers.

“Government invests billions through Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), and buys the Harvest of the same investment from Vendors at a higher Price. The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) falls short of some important realities in as far as harvest against those who really need food support is concerned.

“The reality being that with the booming of the animal industry in Malawi, like poultry and others, you will find that the whole owner does not grow their own like crops for feed, like it is in other countries. Almost half of the harvest goes to animal feed production, which MVAC report overlooks, making government respond to inaccurate figures.

“With this in mind, can government consider declaring maize as a protected crop like it is in other countries, so that anyone can do any business with any crop apart from Maize? All maize should be bought by Admarc?

“Like it’s in other countries, all animal feed producers should sign off taker agreements with specific mega farmers to grow maize specifically for animal feed production under Irrigation so that we protect our citizens, as the weather reports are indicating that this pattern that has caused havoc this year will stay on for next three years,” said Bango, who stood on a supplementary question.

Chakwera said the AG’s opinion will give direction on the issue.

“I will inquire from the Attorney General, so he gives me an opinion on it. And then we can take the necessary steps, should that be the case. Second of all, I’d love to encourage companies to do exactly what the honorable member has suggested, they should go into that kind of arrangement.

“This is actually the reason for agricultural commercialization, that is the velocity behind all that we are doing, and all of that people have what it takes to take seriously agricultural as a business,” he said.

In November last year, the Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD) issued a dire forecast, anticipating significant socio-economic repercussions from the impending El Niño phenomenon. Malawi was projected to endure a staggering loss of approximately K337 billion in maize yield, accompanied by disruptions in electricity supply and water availability, exacerbating the already challenging conditions.

The potential ramifications extend to an estimated 2.8 million individuals facing food insecurity, heightened risks of malnutrition, and heightened deforestation amidst the strain of electricity shortages.

This assessment followed a forecast by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (MET), indicating below-average rainfall patterns across most regions of Malawi for the agricultural season spanning from October 2023 to April 2024, with dry spells anticipated.

Utilizing the Auto Regressive Integrated Moving Average model, a statistical analysis tool leveraging time series data, CARD, under the leadership of Director Innocent Pangapanga, derived these projections to comprehend the dataset comprehensively and forecast future trends.

Furthermore, CARD underscored that the impending El Niño event is poised to curtail maize production, the nation’s staple crop, by an estimated 561,574 metric tonnes.

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