Magomero (C) inspecting irish potato field

Ntchisi, August 22, 2019: Ntchisi district has registered an increase in agricultural productivity for most of the major crops grown in the district during the 2018/2019 growing season, Malawi News Agency (Mana) has established.

According to the 2018/2019 third round Agriculture Production Estimate Survey (APES) report for the district, maize production has gone up from 128,298 metric tonnes from the previous growing season to 141,463 metric tonnes, representing a nine per cent increase.

The report indicates an increase in Burley Tobacco production from 5.6 million to 6.1 million kilogrammes while flue cured tobacco production increased from 1 million during the previous growing season to 1.1 million kilogrammes this growing season, representing a seven per cent increase.

For legume crops, groundnut yield increased from 12,590 metric tonnes in the previous growing season to 13,350 metric tonnes during the 2018/2019 growing season, representing a 12 per cent increase. Soyabean yield increased by 13 per cent, from 26,580 during the 2017/2018 growing season to 31,710 metric tonnes during the 2018/2019 growing season.

Horticultural crops such as tomatoes, cabbages, onions and leafy vegetables remained the same as last growing season while coffee yield went up by eight per cent.

Acting District Agriculture Development Officer, Siliro Nkhukuzalira Magomero attributed the increased agricultural production to among other things, higher uptake of fertilizers by farmers, good advisory services from the office as well as favourable weather conditions in most of the district’s Extension Planning Areas (EPAs).

“The higher uptake of fertilizers came about because of among other things increased number of beneficiaries under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) as well as increased support from tobacco companies,” he said adding maize yield increased due to low infestation of fall army worms.

Despite the increased maize production, Magomero said his office has advised farmers not to sell all their harvest and keep some until the next harvest.

During the 2018/2019 growing season, a total of 29,200 beneficiaries were targeted in the district, an increase from 26,300 beneficiaries who were targeted in the 2017/2018 season, according to the Officer.

He said the district registered a decrease of six per cent for beans yield due to bean beetle attack while potato yield decreased by 15 per cent due to Late bright attack.

“Potatoes is grown on a larger scale in the district with most of the farmers depending on it for their livelihood and as a solution to the late bright disease,” Magomero said farmers are always advised not to rotate potatoes with crops of the same family like tobacco, tomatoes and egg plants.

The APES report has cited natural disasters, pests and diseases as some of the challenges which affected both crop and livestock production during the last growing season.

Malomo EPA for instance experienced floods along Bua River and hailstorm which affected crops.

District Crop Development Officer for Ntchisi, Salimu Mdoka said the said in an interview that the office started implementing the APES exercise in September last year.

He said the survey was done in blocks and had 15 farmers per block.

“The blocks were selected randomly where measurements for crop fields were taken as well as taking stock of livestock,” Mdoka said.
In terms of livestock, the district registered increases in livestock population in most of the major classes of animal species.

Animal Health and Livestock Development Officer, Francis Mhango said this could be largely be attributed to improved survival rate, reduction of diseases due to vaccinations and proper management.

He added that government projects like the Malawi Drought Recovery and Resilience Project (MDRRP) and non-governmental organisations such as the Trustees for Agriculture Production Promotion (TAPP) and Rural Poultry Centre have made an impact in the district.0.

Zakeyo Mwale, a farmer at Ntchisi Centre section under Chikwatula EPA in Traditional Authority Kalumo’s area is among the farmers who participated in the APES exercise.

He has harvested 90 bags of hybrid maize, 1,010 Kgs of tobacco and during the 2018/2019 growing season.

“The APES exercise was helpful as it enabled us to get proper extension services from our extension workers right for each and every step of our agricultural production,” he said.

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