Drought, tropical cyclones cut Malawi maize output by 18.9%

BLANTYRE, July 15 (Reuters) - Malawi's maize output declined by 18.9% in the 2021/22 farming year due to a combination of factors like drought, tropical cyclones and inadequate supply of subsidized fertilizer, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

Production fell to 3.7 million metric tonnes from 4.6 million metric tonnes in the 2020/21 farming season, according to the third round of the 2021/22 Agricultural Production Estimate Survey (APES).

“Most areas, particularly in Southern Malawi experienced late onset of rains resulting in prolonged dry spells,” Gracian Lungu, a spokesman for the ministry, told Reuters, adding that those that planted maize saw their crop destroyed by cyclones Ana and Gombe.

He said there was a concern that the shortage of the staple grain could affect the country’s overall food security, but noted that the output of some food crops such as groundnuts, sesame and soya beans increased over the season.

Prices of maize and other food commodities have risen sharply in recent months, sparking protests by consumer groups.

However, the maize production still represents a surplus of 0.6 million metric tonnes compared to Malawi's national requirement of 3.1 million tons.

The country's year-on-year inflation rose to 19.1% in May from 15.7% in April, the National Statistical Office said in June.

Reporting by Frank Phiri Editing by Anait Miridzhanian and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.