FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

SPECIAL REPORT

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO MALAWI

29 May 2002

 

MISSION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Maize production in 2002 is estimated at 1 539 000 tonnes, 10 percent below last yearís poor harvest. The major cause was erratic rainfall with long dry spells.
  • Cereal supply in 2002/03 marketing year (April/March) is estimated at 1.721 million tonnes, while the national cereal requirement is estimated at 2.206 million tonnes. This results in an import requirement of 485 000 tonnes.
  • Commercial imports of cereals are forecast at 225 000 tonnes and food aid requirements at 208 000 tonnes which will need to be covered by the Government and external assistance.
  • Approximately 3.2 million people seriously affected by the combined effects of reduced food availability and purchasing power need emergency food assistance estimated at approximately 207 689 tonnes of cereals, mainly maize.
  • National production of roots and tubers has increased, and this will moderate the maize shortage in many areas.
  • Emergency provision of agricultural inputs such as maize seed, bean seed, fertilizer and hand hoes is recommended to assist affected farming households to carry out winter cultivation in wetlands and irrigated areas in May/June and for the main planting season in October/November. Rapid cassava multiplication and provision of treadle pumps are recommended measures to further improve food security at household level.

 

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1. OVERVIEW

A number of factors, including a poor harvest in 2000/01, very low levels of stocks of maize, rapidly rising food prices, a generally late start to the planting rains for the 2001/02 season, flooding in several districts, and a dry spell early in 2002, pointed to a developing food crisis in Malawi. This prompted the Government to declare a state of national disaster at the end of February, and to request FAO and WFP to carry out an assessment of the food situation in the country. Accordingly, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Malawi from 21 April to 11 May 2002. The Mission's objectives were to assess the country's 2001/02 crop production, estimate the levels of existing food stocks, review the overall food supply situation, and draw up a national food balance sheet indicating the magnitude of the food gap. A representative of SADCís Regional Early Warning Unit (REWU) participated in the Mission as an observer.

The Mission was briefed in Lilongwe by the staff of various departments in the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI), the National Food Reserve Authority (NFRA), the Agricultural Marketing Development Corporation (ADMARC), the Reserve Bank of Malawi, UN and other international and bilateral organisations, and NGOs. In addition, the Mission was provided with extensive documentation prepared by the Government and non-government agencies on recent weather conditions, current crop assessments and forecasts, and reported food shortages. Most importantly, the Mission had access to MAI's Second-Round Agricultural Production Estimates which had been prepared in March 2002.

After its initial briefing, the Mission split into two teams to visit the southern part of the country, and into three teams to visit the northern part. Between them, the teams visited all the country's eight Agricultural Development Divisions (ADDs) and its 26 mainland districts. The local situation was discussed with MAI and other Government officials at each ADD headquarters and again in each district, with a view to establishing the continuing validity or otherwise of the forecasts presented in the Second-Round Agricultural Production Estimates. The teams also travelled extensively in the field in order to observe and evaluate standing crops, and to discuss with farmers their experiences of the summer cropping season, their plans for the winter cropping season, and their perceptions of their level of food security at present and for the coming twelve months. Markets were visited in order to observe the level of availability and prices of staples, and the current season was discussed with traders and owners of small maize mills. Some health officials were also interviewed in order to get an indication of the effects of the recent food shortage on people's health.

On its return to Lilongwe, the Mission briefed the Government and donor agencies on its preliminary findings.

Maize is the preferred staple of the vast majority of Malawians, and a lack of maize is generally interpreted as a lack of food. Poor production in 2000/01 led to serious shortages towards the end of 2001 and during the first three months of 2002. Hopes of a better harvest in 2001/02 were dashed by flood damage in several areas, followed by a prolonged dry spell over most of the country during the critical months of February and March. Furthermore, the actual harvest is expected to be lower than the second-round estimates as a result of the widespread pre-harvest consumption of maize in the field, a consequence of the shortages caused by last year's poor harvest. With virtually no carryover stocks, and a forecast maize harvest of only 1.54 million tonnes, the national maize requirement of about 1.72 million tonnes for human consumption alone (based on the average historic rate of consumption of about 151 kg/caput/annum) will not be fully met internally. Taking total utilization requirements (including seed, feed, losses, etc.) of all cereals, the country faces an import requirement of about 485 000 tonnes. Malawi's production of roots and tubers has increased significantly in recent years, as has the acceptance of these crops as an important contributor to household food security. These crops will contribute to reducing the cereal deficit. Commercial cereal imports are forecast at 277 000 tonnes and food aid at 207 687 tonnes for an estimated 3.2 million people affected by the combined effects of reduced food availability and declining purchasing power.

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2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTEXT

2.1 Macro-economic situation

During the last twenty years Malawi has faced two central economic challenges: the need to reduce the level of absolute poverty and to cut the budget deficit. The strategies for poverty alleviation have included liberalisation of domestic markets, relaxation of agricultural marketing arrangements and privatisation of parastatal companies, together with specific rural development programmes. Overall, there has been little noticeable diversification of the production base, agriculture being by far the dominant sector. Between 1981 and 2001, real GDP growth averaged 3 percent a year.

In December 2000, the IMF approved a three-year poverty reduction and growth facility that formalised the objective of poverty reduction and emphasized fiscal policy reform and promotion of private-sector development and investment.

Macro-economic instability has been a major problem in recent years. The Government has been attempting to control public spending through the introduction of a medium-term expenditure framework, but it is believed that the budget deficit target of 1.9 per cent of GDP for 2001/02 is unattainable. Between 60 and 70 per cent of government expenditure is funded from external sources in the form of grants and loans. There has been rapid growth in money supply and inflation, as the Reserve Bank covered the government budget deficit with internal credit. Open-market operations, mainly issuance of treasury bills, have been used in an attempt to minimise the inflationary effect of public sector borrowing and to support the national currency, the Malawi kwacha (MK). This has resulted in high nominal and real interest rates.

High levels of inflation have historically made the kwacha vulnerable to depreciation, but a rare appreciation occurred in 2001 that caused profit uncertainty among traders who had signed future contracts in US dollars. Tobacco export revenues are expected to increase this year, following a switch to the higher-value flue-cured tobacco and an improvement in the quality of the burley tobacco crop. However, declining international prices for coffee and tea are reducing export receipts from these crops.

Public and publicly guaranteed long-term external debt was US$2,596 million at the end of 1999 and debt service was US$44 million. Total foreign currency reserves at the end of 2000 were US$248 million, representing less than six months of imports of goods and services.

2.2 Performance of the agricultural sector

Agricultural output generates over 90 percent of export earnings, mostly from tobacco, and 30-40 percent of GDP. The agricultural sector is dualistic, consisting of small-scale farmers and an estate sub-sector. The two sub-sectors have been historically distinguished on the basis of legal and institutional rules regulating land tenure, type of crops and marketing arrangements. The smallholder sub-sector is based on a customary land-tenure system and is primarily subsistence, providing the bulk of food production. The main food crop is maize, supplemented by rice, sorghum, pulses, cassava and sweet potatoes. Since the mid-1990s, smallholders have been allowed to produce export/industrial crops, and this has generated great response in production, particularly of tobacco. Other cash crops include cotton, groundnuts and pulses. The estate sub-sector comprises about 14 700 estates occupying some 850 000 hectares of leased land. The main crops are tobacco, tea and sugarcane. Approximately 80 percent of the workforce is employed in the smallholder sub-sector and 11 percent on estates.

Agricultural production grew at an annual rate of 2.1 percent from 1980 to 1993, down from a high of 4.4 percent per annum between 1970 and 1980. This was mainly because ADMARCís purchases were drastically reduced in 1986/87, with maize purchases going down from 271 000 tonnes in 1985 to 59 500 tonnes in 1987, as result of excessive stocks and Government budgetary constraints. Furthermore, guaranteed producer prices were held down to reduce Government expenditure, with the price of maize constant for three years up to 1997. This led to a steep fall in the marketed maize and a resurgence of food shortages after many years of surpluses.

Throughout the 1990s, agricultural production was characterized by marked swings, mainly due to droughts. Following a drop in maize production in 1996/97, there was a significant recovery in 1998/99 and 1999/00, which was attributed to increased use of modern agricultural inputs (improved seed and fertiliser) under the Starter Pack scheme, and increased cropped area. During the 2000/01 season, distribution of inputs was drastically reduced due to very limited donor involvement in financing the scheme, and reduced credit availability following extensive defaults by farmers in 1999/00 due to very low maize prices.

2.3 Population

The size of Malawi's population is a contentious issue, and one which has very significant implications for the assessment of national food security. The figure currently used by MAI is 11.44 million, which is based on an annual growth rate of 2.7 percent since the 1998 census. This is higher than the inter-censual annual growth rate of 1.9 percent for 1989-1998. On the other hand, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which explicitly takes into account the effects of high mortality attributable to AIDS, assumes an annual population growth rate of only 1.5 percent. Using this rate, the CIA arrives at a population figure of about 10.6 million in 2001.

For the purpose of calculating national food requirements, the Mission has used the Governmentís population figure of 11.44 million.

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3. FOOD CROP PRODUCTION IN 2001/2002

3.1 Main factors affecting production in 2001/2002

Agricultural credit

Credit was less available to small farmers this year because of poor repayment of loans in 2000/01. Shortage of credit generally resulted in reduced ability to purchase seed and other inputs.

Rainfall

In reviewing rainfall for the 2001/02 cropping season, the Mission examined recent precipitation records from around the country, as well as satellite imagery of the country for the three summer seasons 1999/00, 2000/01 and 2001/02. Discussions were also held with farmers and extension workers concerning the effects of the season's rainfall on crop production.

In most parts of the country, rainfall was the most significant single determinant of crop production in 2001/02. Rains in mid-November prompted many farmers to plant early, especially in the central and southern zones, where these early rains appeared to indicate the beginning of the season. However, this turned out to be a false start in many cases, and, where emergence was hampered by dry conditions in late November and early December, farmers were forced to replant later. Drier-than-normal conditions prevailed over the northern and central zones until the second half of December, by which time much of the country's planting had been significantly delayed. Abnormally heavy rains at the end of December and the beginning of January led to flood damage and some crop loss in parts of all three regions. Rainfall then stabilised to a normal pattern during January, leading to expectations that the maize crop could, after all, be quite satisfactory. Then, towards the end of February, when much of the late-planted maize was at the teaselling stage, rainfall declined dramatically over most of the country. Central and southern regions were most seriously affected, but all parts of the country experienced below-average rainfall until late March, when the rains returned to normal or above-normal. A further setback came in the second week of April when rainfall stopped abruptly in many parts of the country, especially in the southern and central regions; late-planted maize was again adversely affected.

The late start to the season, the flooding, the dry spell during February-March, and the early cessation of rains in April all contributed to reduced maize production this year, despite the fact that total rainfall recorded up to the end of March was not very different from normal. Roots and tubers, however, were relatively unaffected, and the above-average rainfall in many areas at the beginning of April facilitated further planting of these crops. This should go some way towards reducing the impact of low maize production on national and household food security. Figure 1 shows three representative rainfall profiles from October 2001 to March 2002 (the latest month for which rainfall records were available at the time of the Mission.)

Area planted

The area planted to maize in 2001/02, estimated at 1.49 million hectares, is marginally less than for either 1999/00 or 2000/01 (both about 1.51 million hectares). Some of the loss to maize may have been taken up by tobacco, the area under which expanded slightly from 114 000 hectares in 2000/01 to 122 000 hectares in 2001/02 in response to expectations (unrealised) of enhanced financial returns. Likewise, groundnuts, which are regarded partly as a cash crop, have been planted to increasingly large areas in recent years. The area under rice has also expanded from 44 000 hectares in 1999/00 to 57 000 hectares in 2001/02. The area under roots and tubers has shown a steady expansion in recent years from a reported combined total of 351 000 hectares in 1999/00, through 394 000 hectares in 2000/01, to 431 000 hectares in 2001/02. (The reliability of these figures, however, is suspect since they may include intercropping, but they do nevertheless indicate real expansion. See below (Roots and tubers) for further discussion.) The recent evolution of major crop areas is given in Table 1 and illustrated in Figure 2.

Table 1. Malawi: Areas (‘000 hectares) under major crops, 1999/00-2001/02

  Maize Rice Roots and
tubers
1/
Groundnuts Tobacco
2001/02 1 488 57 431 209 122
2000/01 1 507 50 394 189 114
1999/00 1 507 44 351 176 119

1/ The figures for roots and tubers may not be reliable in absolute terms (see text).

Agricultural inputs

Low maize production was attributed in many areas to a shortage of seed, retained seed having often been consumed as a result of the poor harvest of the previous year. A further problem was the necessity to replant in those areas where there had been a false start to the season, followed by a period of relative drought, during which emerging plants dried out. Farmers often had no more seed left after the first planting. DIFD's Targeted Inputs Programme (TIP) was reduced significantly in 2001, with the result that many farmers who were depending on seed from this programme for their summer planting were disappointed. On the other hand, the late distribution of winter-TIP seed in 2001 prompted some farmers to keep it for the 2001/02 summer planting.

A significant proportion of Malawiís maize area is planted to hybrids (though the MAI's extension service is now advocating greater use of composites and OPVs), and there appear to be many cases where farmers, unable to purchase new seed, plant the seed retained from their hybrid crop, with a consequent yield reduction.

Farmers in many areas experienced difficulty in obtaining cassava cuttings and sweet potato vines. Nevertheless, the area under these crops has increased, and the MAI is successfully encouraging the establishment of nurseries for planting material.

Malawian smallholders purchase relatively little fertilizer for their food crops since the price, now no longer subsidised, is often unaffordable. (Current prices of 25 kg bags of urea, 23.21.0, and CAN are approximately MK 1,060, 1,260 and 960 respectively.) A great many farmers continue to depend on fertilizer distributed either free or on credit through various programmes such as TIP and the EC's Agricultural Productivity Investment Programme (APIP). The reduction in these programmes during 2001 had a detrimental effect on fertilizer use and on total maize production. Compost-making is being actively encouraged by the MAI.

Weeds, pests and diseases

The contribution of weeds to crop yield reduction was relatively high this year, since many farmers, more occupied than normal with finding food elsewhere, had less time to weed their gardens. There were reports of very localised striga infestations, but their severity was minimal.

Armyworm outbreaks were reported and contained in a number of locations. Yields of sorghum and millet were reduced by quelea birds, especially in Shire Valley; the severity of attacks, however, was not abnormal.

The most serious diseases of maize during the summer season were grey leaf spot and streak, both of which led to significant yield reductions locally. Sorghum was attacked by smut, and some downy mildew was noted on bulrush millet, but the level of incidence was about normal in both cases.

3.2 Food crop production estimate

Cereals

Following the Missionís observations and discussions, four separate adjustments were made to the MAIís Second-Round Agricultural Production Estimates for maize.

1. Since the Second-Round Estimates did not take into account the extensive pre-harvest consumption of maize during the month of March, a reduction of the final production figure was deemed necessary. It was considered reasonable to suppose that about 40 per cent of the nationís monthly maize consumption requirement of 143,000 t would have been consumed straight from the field during March. A factor of 4 per cent was therefore applied to each ADDís summer production figure as given in the Second-Round Estimates, resulting in an overall national reduction of 59,380 t. (Any pre-harvest consumption during April was regarded as part of production for the marketing year 2002/03.)

2. Since the Second-Round Estimates were carried out prior to the early cessation of the rains in April, a further adjustment was required to take account of this. First, an estimate was made of the proportion of the crop that would have been affected by the early cessation of rains; this varied according to ADD in order to allow for the geographical differences both in crop maturation date and in date of cessation. An estimate was then made of the extent to which the yield of the affected portion of the crop would have been depressed as a result of the early cessation of the rains. These two factors were applied to the amount of crop still standing in the field at the beginning of March, i.e. following the adjustment for pre-harvest consumption in March. The result was a further reduction of 42 133 tonnes.

3. The early cessation of the rains in April resulted in drier-than-normal soil conditions at the beginning of the winter season. Since the Second-Round Estimates were made on the assumption that soil-moisture levels at the beginning of the season would be normal, the Mission considered it necessary to reduce the MAIís projected production figures for winter maize by 10 percent or 14 148 tonnes.

4. The Second-Round Estimates were carried out prior to the finalisation of the winter-maize TIP, and therefore did not take into account the extra production that is expected to result from this programme. The average yield of winter maize, based on the MAIís area estimates and on production figures adjusted for low soil moisture at the beginning of the season, is 1.53 tonnes/hectare. The TIP will cover 30 000 hectare, and the average yield expected from TIP plots is 2.5 tonnes/hectare. Therefore an increment of 0.97 tonnes/hectare over 30 000 hectares, or a total of 29 060 tonnes, is expected. (The TIP organisers anticipate an increment of about 75 000 tonnes to result from the programme, based on the assumption that all the TIP plots will be on land that would otherwise be either uncultivated or under a crop other than maize. However, from discussions with farmers, the Mission concluded that the vast majority of TIP plots would be on land that was already destined for winter maize). The figures showing these adjustments are presented in Table 2.

Rice production for 2001/02 is estimated at 94 400 tonnes, the bulk of it coming from Machinga and Salima ADDs, with a national average yield of 1.67 tonnes/hectare. Sorghum and millet are expected to contribute 37 800 tonnes and 20 500 tonnes respectively, with national average yields of 0.69 and 0.60 tonnes/hectare.

Wheat is grown in a few highland locations, especially in Blantyre ADD. In 2001/02, it is forecast to contribute about 2 400 tonnes to the national food balance.

Total cereal production for Malawi in 2001/02 is therefore estimated at 1.69 million tonnes, as shown in Table 3. The trend in production of the major food crops over the last three years is illustrated in Figure 3.

Roots and tubers

Estimation of cassava production over large areas is notoriously difficult. In Malawi, both bitter and sweet varieties are grown, with maturation periods ranging from eight months to two years. Consequently, the area under cassava at any one time is no more than a very approximate indication of the amount of produce that will be available in the next twelve months. Populations in the north of the country and close to Lake Malawi, such as Nkhata Bay, mostly grow bitter cassava, which they regard as their staple. In most other areas, however, where maize is regarded exclusively as the staple, sweet varieties are grown for consumption as Ďsnacksí. Official production figures for cassava in recent years have been extremely high. For instance, the estimate for 2002 (Second-Round Crop Production Estimates) gives the total national production as more than 3.5 million tonnes fresh weight, with average ADD yields ranging from 12 tonnes/hectare (Shire Valley and Machinga) to 23 tonnes/hectare (Mzuzu). Although Malawi is a reasonably good cassava producer, its growing conditions, especially for the short-cycle varieties planted at the end of the summer season (shortening day lengths at planting, cool nights and dry conditions during bulking) are not ideal. Much of the crop is also grown as an intercrop. Taking account of these facts, as well as the fact that 3.5 million tonnes of cassava would provide each person in Malawi with more than 300 kg annually, the Mission considers - and many agriculturalists in Malawi agree - that the production projection for the year 2001/02 is a gross over-estimate. What appears to be irrefutable though is that the area under cassava is growing steadily and that traditional maize-eating populations are consuming more cassava. The latter is especially evident this year, following the shortages of 2000/01.

The official MAI production figures for sweet potato (more than 3 million tonnes fresh weight, with a national average yield of 14 tonnes/hectare) are, like those for cassava, considered to be grossly over-estimated. (3.5 million tonnes of cassava and 3 million tonnes of sweet potato would provide more than half a tonne of root crop to each Malawian over the course of a year, and this in a population in which more than 30 percent are under the age of 10). The Mission suspects that both the total area and the yield of the crop may have been over-estimated, largely as a result of the inclusion of intercropped stands. However, again as for cassava, the area planted to sweet potato has also increased significantly in recent years, as has the cropís acceptability as a valuable food in the predominantly maize-consuming populations.

In attempting to deal with the problem of estimating the amount of cassava and sweet potato that would be available during the current marketing year, the Mission decided that it would be realistic to divide the MAIís production figures for cassava by 3.5 (taking account of possible over-estimation of area, of probable over-estimation of yield, and of the non-availability in the current year of the produce from long-cycle varieties), whilst those for sweet potato could be divided by 1.5 (taking account of possible over-estimation of area, and of probable over-estimation of yield). This gives a supply of one million tonnes of fresh cassava, and two million tonnes of fresh sweet potato.

Irish potato is produced in several high-altitude locations. The main area of production is around Dedza Hills in Lilongwe ADD, but significant amounts are also produced in Blantyre ADD. The MAI estimates national production for 2001/02 at about 377 000 tonnes, which is an increase of more than 50 000 tonnes on the previous year.

The MAIís production figures for roots and tubers in 2000/01 and 2001/02 are given in Table 4.

Legumes

Groundnut production in 2001/02, estimated at more than 175 000 tonnes, is higher than either of the previous two years (155 000 tonnes in 2000/01, and 122 000 tonnes in 1999/00). Estimated pulse production (mainly beans and pigeon pea) in 2001/02 is, at just over 300 000 tonnes, similar to that of 2000/01. The figure, however, shows a significant increase on 1999/00, when total production was estimated to be about 267 000 tonnes.

Table 2. Maize production, 2001/02, adjusted for pre-harvest consumption, early cessation of rains in April, low soil moisture at the beginning of the winter season, and winter TIP.

ADD   MAI Round-2 Estimates Summer production Winter production Adjusted 2001/2002 prodn. with TIP
Total Summer Winter R-2 minus
pre-
harvest
consump-
tion
%
affected
by
late
drought
Affected
summer
prodn.
% redn.
due to
late
drought
Prod.
redn.
due to
late
drought
Adjusted
summer
prod
Round-2 minus 10% for dry start Increment due to TIP Adjusted winter prodn.
Karonga Area (‘000 ha) 35.9 33.5 2.4           33.5 2.4 1.5 2.4 35.9
  Yield (t/ha) 1.33 1.32 1.47           1.26 1.32 1.18 2.06 1.31
  Production (‘000 t) 47.7 44.2 3.5 42.4 5 2.1 10 0.2 42.2 3.2 1.8 4.9 47.2
Mzuzu Area (‘000 ha) 143.6 139.4 4.2           139.4 4.2 5.0 4.2 143.6
  Yield (t/ha) 1.15 1.13 1.88           1.07 1.69 0.81 2.65 1.12
  Production (‘000 t) 165.5 157.6 8.0 151.3 10 15.1 10 1.5 149.8 7.2 4.0 11.2 161.0
Kasungu Area (‘000 ha) 270.6 253.3 17.3           253.3 17.3 4.0 17.3 270.6
  Yield (t/ha) 1.31 1.26 2.00           1.16 1.80 0.70 1.96 1.21
  Production (‘000 t) 354.2 319.7 34.6 306.9 30 92.1 15 13.8 293.1 31.1 2.8 33.9 327.0
Salima Area (‘000 ha) 115.3 110.1 5.2           110.1 5.2 2.3 5.2 115.3
  Yield (t/ha) 1.07 1.05 1.43           0.97 1.29 1.21 1.82 1.01
  Production (‘000 t) 122.9 115.5 7.4 110.9 20 22.2 20 4.4 106.5 6.6 2.8 9.4 115.9
Lilongwe Area (‘000 ha) 285.4 269.6 15.8           269.6 15.8 4.6 15.8 285.4
  Yield (t/ha) 1.07 1.02 1.89           0.94 1.70 0.80 1.94 0.99
  Production (‘000 t) 304.9 275.0 29.9 264.0 30 79.2 15 11.9 252.2 26.9 3.7 30.6 282.7
Blantyre Area (‘000 ha) 236.0 232.9 3.0           232.9 3.0 3.0 3.0 236.0
  Yield (t/ha) 1.11 1.10 1.80           1.05 1.62 0.88 2.50 1.06
  Production (‘000 t) 261.8 256.4 5.4 246.1 10 24.6 10 2.5 243.7 4.9 2.7 7.5 251.2
Machinga Area (‘000 ha) 301.1 289.5 11.7           289.5 11.7 5.4 11.7 301.1
  Yield (t/ha) 0.90 0.86 1.76           0.80 1.58 0.92 2.01 0.85
  Production (‘000 t) 269.6 249.2 20.5 239.2 20 47.8 15 7.2 232.0 18.4 5.0 23.4 255.4
Shire Valley Area (‘000 ha) 98.9 75.3 23.6           75.3 23.6 4.5 23.6 98.9
  Yield (t/ha) 1.00 0.89 1.37           0.84 1.23 1.27 1.47 0.99
  Production (‘000 t) 99.2 67.0 32.3 64.3 10 6.4 10 0.6 63.6 29.0 5.7 34.8 98.4
Malawi Area (‘000 ha) 1486.8 1403.7 83.2           1403.7 83.2 30.3 83.2 1486.8
  Yield (t/ha) 1.09 1.06 1.70           0.99 1.53 0.94 1.87 1.03
  Production (‘000 t) 1626.0 1484.5 141.5 1425.1   289.6   42.1 1383.0 127.3 28.4 155.7 1538.7

Table 3. Malawi. Cereal production, 2001/02

ADD   Maize Rice Sorghum Millet Wheat Total cereals
Karonga Area (‘000 ha) 35.9 9.7 0.3 2.2 0.0 48.1
  Yield (t/ha) 1.3 1.68 0.36 0.74    
  Production (‘000 t) 47.2 16.3 0.1 1.6 0.0 65.1
Mzuzu Area (‘000 ha) 143.6 2.0 0.0 8.6 0.1 154.3
  Yield (t/ha) 1.1 2.04   0.67 1.02  
  Production (‘000 t) 161.0 4.2 0.0 5.7 0.1 171.0
Kasungu Area (‘000 ha) 270.6 0.3 0.1 0.8 0.04 271.8
  Yield (t/ha) 1.2 1.30 0.57 0.46 1.32  
  Production (‘000 t) 327.0 0.4 0.0 0.4 0.05 327.8
Salima Area (‘000 ha) 115.3 13.0 1.6 2.5 0.0 132.4
  Yield (t/ha) 1.0 2.00 0.77 0.66    
  Production (‘000 t) 115.9 26.0 1.2 1.7 0.0 144.7
Lilongwe Area (‘000 ha) 285.4 0.1 0.3 12.4 0.3 298.4
  Yield (t/ha) 1.0 1.28 0.60 0.57 0.77  
  Production (‘000 t) 282.7 0.1 0.2 7.1 0.2 290.3
Blantyre Area (‘000 ha) 236.0 7.1 26.3 1.2 2.5 273.1
  Yield (t/ha) 1.1 1.08 0.73 0.48 0.80  
  Production (‘000 t) 251.2 7.7 19.1 0.6 2.0 280.5
Machinga Area (‘000 ha) 301.1 19.6 18.5 1.1 0.0 340.4
  Yield (t/ha) 0.8 1.76 0.75 0.52    
  Production (‘000 t) 255.4 34.4 13.8 0.6 0.0 304.2
Shire Valley Area (‘000 ha) 98.9 4.8 7.4 5.3 0.0 116.4
  Yield (t/ha) 1.0 1.16 0.45 0.54    
  Production (‘000 t) 98.4 5.5 3.3 2.9 0.0 110.1
Malawi Area (‘000 ha) 1486.8 56.6 54.4 34.1 2.9 1634.9
  Yield (t/ha) 1.03 1.67 0.69 0.60 0.81  
  Production (‘000 t) 1538.7 94.4 37.8 20.5 2.4 1693.8

Table 4. Malawi. Comparative root and tuber production, 2000/01 and 2001/02

ADD   Cassava Sweet potato Potato
2000/01 2001/02 2000/01 2001/02 2000/01 2001/02
Karonga Area (‘000 ha) 14.2 15.4 6.6 6.4 0.3 0.0
  Yield (t/ha) 15.7 17.8 17.2 16.2 10.0 8.9
  Production (‘000 t) 223.8 274.5 113.4 104.0 2.8 0.3
Mzuzu Area (‘000 ha) 38.7 43.7 13.1 17.5 1.3 1.3
  Yield (t/ha) 25.2 23.0 15.4 15.6 9.9 10.3
  Production (‘000 t) 973.1 1005.0 200.9 274.2 12.6 13.2
Kasungu Area (‘000 ha) 16.6 18.5 24.7 30.3 2.2 2.2
  Yield (t/ha) 14.7 15.3 13.5 13.9 12.5 12.3
  Production (‘000 t) 245.4 282.6 332.1 423.2 27.3 26.5
Salima Area (‘000 ha) 27.5 30.2 11.0 14.9 0.0 0.0
  Yield (t/ha) 17.5 19.3 9.6 11.0    
  Production (‘000 t) 482.3 581.7 105.4 164.1 0.0 0.0
Lilongwe Area (‘000 ha) 20.2 23.5 24.0 26.2 15.3 18.4
  Yield (t/ha) 13.8 14.6 14.7 15.3 13.7 14.0
  Production (‘000 t) 278.3 344.0 353.5 401.2 209.8 256.4
Blantyre Area (‘000 ha) 40.4 42.7 62.8 65.2 3.6 4.1
  Yield (t/ha) 12.9 13.2 12.9 13.5 19.4 19.0
  Production (‘000 t) 519.7 563.7 808.4 881.3 69.6 78.1
Machinga Area (‘000 ha) 43.2 38.4 40.9 46.4 0.1 0.2
  Yield (t/ha) 14.3 11.6 13.2 14.8 9.1 9.7
  Production (‘000 t) 616.5 446.7 540.5 687.9 1.2 2.1
Shire Valley Area (‘000 ha) 1.5 1.6 9.6 10.0 0.0 0.0
  Yield (t/ha) 15.6 12.3 13.9 11.9    
  Production (‘000 t) 23.3 20.2 132.6 118.9 0.0 0.0
Malawi Area (‘000 ha) 202.3 214.0 192.5 217.0 22.8 26.2
  Yield (t/ha) 16.6 16.4 13.4 14.1 14.2 14.4
  Production (‘000 t) 3362.4 3518.3 2586.8 3054.8 323.3 376.7

3.3 Livestock and pasture

Livestock condition in Malawi is currently good, and pasture is considered to be adequate for the coming year. Large numbers of livestock were sold at greatly reduced prices during the period of food shortage at the beginning of 2002, by families desperate for cash to buy maize and other foodstuffs. Some of these animals undoubtedly went for slaughter, but a significant number are thought to have merely changed hands. Consequently, although the countryís total livestock population may have decreased only slightly, some owners now have larger herds, while a great many others have lost a valuable buffer against future food shortages.

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4. AGRICULTURAL SITUATION BY ADD

Karonga

Rains started sporadically at the beginning of December, but amounts sufficient for planting were not received until the second half of the month. Some areas had excessive rainfall at the end of the year, and 1 850 hectares of maize were reported to have been affected by flooding. Rainfall in January and February was generally good, with some diminution in March. The early cessation of rains in April was less dramatic than elsewhere in the country. With the generally high moisture content resulting from the satisfactory rains, winter maize planting is expected to increase. Despite an overall reduction in area, maize production in 2001/02 is estimated to be higher than that of last year. Cassava, sweet potato, rice, groundnuts, tobacco and cotton have all performed well; tobacco and rice showed an increase in area, although the irrigated summer rice area declined.

Mzuzu

Some areas received rains in October, prompting farmers to plant their maize, but this was followed by a dry spell. Some of these early-planted crops survived, but some dried out, necessitating replanting. In most parts of the ADD, effective planting rains were not received until the second half of December. They were then well distributed, except in some areas which experienced a dry spell of two to three weeks after mid-February. Some parts of Rumphi District experienced slight flooding. Maize production is forecast to be down on last yearís by about 20 000 tonnes. Significant increases in the areas under cassava and sweet potato were registered. Fungal disease and beetle infestation were reported to have reduced bean yields. The generally late arrival of the rains is reported to have resulted in local shortages of water and pasture for livestock.

Kasungu

Mchinji was the first district to receive planting rains in mid November. Elsewhere the rains arrived in late December, leading to a very wide range of planting dates within the ADD. Following good rains in January and February, most districts experienced an unusually long dry spell in March. The rains returned at the end of March, but stopped abruptly in most places in early April. Maize production for the ADD, which is one of the countryís most important producers, is forecast to be about 35 000 tonnes down on last year. Most of the reduction will be in Kasungu and Mchinji districts. Both cassava and sweet potato production are expected to show an increase over 2000/01; most of this will be attributable to an increase in planted area. Tobacco production is down slightly on last year, but groundnut production shows an increase.

Salima

Dry conditions up to the second half of December were followed by heavy rains which caused flooding in most areas of the ADD. The rains became more normal later in January and February, and, in the north of the ADD, continued normal during March. However, Salima district experienced an unusually long dry spell in March. Rains generally stopped early in April. Maize production is forecast to be similar to that of last year. Although the area under rice has increased significantly over last year, production is forecast to be about the same. The area under cassava and sweet potato has also increased and production is forecast to be considerably higher than that of last year; production of sweet potato alone is expected to increase by 50 percent.

Lilongwe

Some parts of the ADD experienced a false start to the rains in October, which frequently led to the need to re-plant later in the season. Good planting rains generally did not arrive until late December. Rains were normal during January and February, but this was followed by a prolonged dry spell from the end of February to mid March when much of the maize crop was at the critical teaselling and cobbing stages. Maize production this year is forecast to be down about 50,000 t on last year. On the other hand, substantial increases in cassava and sweet potato production are forecast. Lilongwe ADD is the countryís main producer of potatoes, and this yearís production estimate of about 256 000 tonnes is more than 45 000 tonnes up on last yearís, mostly as a result of an expansion of area. Tobacco production is also higher this year for the same reason.

Blantyre

The arrival date of the rains in Blantyre ADD was very varied, resulting in a wide range of planting dates. Thyolo received good rains in October, but elsewhere the rains started at different times in November. Heavy rains in December resulted in some flooding in all districts. A dry spell over most of the ADD in early January had little effect on crop production since by then the soil moisture status was generally adequate to withstand it. Rains resumed later in January and continued satisfactorily into February, but another dry spell struck at the end of February and lasted until mid March. By this time, however, most of the maize crop was already mature. Both the area and production of maize are forecast to be slightly lower than last year. Cassava and sweet potato areas and production are estimated to be up on last year.

Machinga

Although there were some light rains during October and November, planting rains did not arrive until late December. These were heavy, but were quickly followed by a dry spell in January, which, because of the high soil-moisture status at that time, was not particularly damaging. Heavy rains returned later in January and continued into February, causing extensive flooding and water-logging, and yield reduction over an estimated 4 000 hectares of maize. Dry conditions returned at the end of February and lasted up to mid March. Late-planted maize was badly affected by this drought, especially in Mangochi District. The area under maize this year is greater than last year, but production is forecast to be lower. However, rice production is forecast to be up by about 3 000 tonnes on last year. Machinga is the only ADD in which a reduction of area under cassava has been reported; sweet potato, however, shows an increase in area and production.

Shire Valley

Erratic light rains fell in late November and early December, leading to some false starts to the season and often necessitating re-planting. Good planting rains arrived in the second half of December. These turned very heavy, causing flooding in low-lying areas. A dry spell in early January was followed by more flooding at the end of the month. Dry conditions returned in late February, but by this time most of the maize crop was mature. Total maize production is forecast to be slightly down on last year. The relatively dry start to the winter season is expected to have an impact on winter maize production, which is very important in this ADD, especially on the Shire floodplain. Cotton production shows little change compared with the last few years.

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5. FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION

5.1 Market conditions

Malawi has a relatively free market for maize and other staple foods. Prices are freely determined in the market, but during periods of scarcity the Government has tended to maintain some control on consumer prices through ADMARCís retail sales of the Government-owned strategic grain reserve. Exports are usually banned and only allowed during periods of production surplus.

After a bumper crop in 1999, a strategic grain reserve of 167 000 tonnes was established. However, this reserve was released both domestically and for export between mid 2000 and early 2001. By March 2002 (the end of marketing year 2001/02), and following a severe shortage of maize on the domestic market, the National Food Reserve Agency imported 106 000 tonnes of maize, which were channelled into the market through ADMARC and private traders initially, but later through ADMARC alone at a fixed price of MK 17/kg, which, at the prevailing exchange rate and rising maize prices in South Africa (the main source of imports) included a subsidy element.

In marketing year 2001/02, maize prices rose sharply from around August 2001 (Figure 4) reaching a national average of 32.5 MK/kg by January/February 2002. This reflected the serious maize shortage and slow arrival of imports. The increase in prices severely curtailed access to food for a large section of the countryís population.

5.2 Food supply/demand in marketing year 2002/03

The 2002/03 projected balance for cereals is summarized in Table 5, based on the following parameters and assumptions: