Some farmers in Ndirande Township in Blantyre on Monday morning were left shocked when they found their maize crops slashed down by Blantyre City Council (BCC) without prior notice.
A snap check by Malawi News Agency (MANA) at one of the maize gardens along Ndirande-Goliyo road found farmers with their faces cast down with sympathizers discussing and trying to find answers as to who was behind the move they described as “regrettable”.
“I suspect Blantyre City Council (BCC) are the ones who have done all this, but I fail to understand the reason behind it,” wondered Noriah Banda, one of the victims.
Banda said she had never experienced this before since she started farming along the Ndirande-Goliati road some years back.
Her counterpart, Jessica Mlewa who also had her maize slashed down lamented that what BCC had done was regrettable and shall remember it for the rest of her life.
She said this would bring food insecurity in her household.
“This is my land and have been cultivating here for a decade, why slashing my crops now; I heavily invested in it to reach that far. If anything, the council should have notified us so that we could have a round table discussion,” she lamented.
Asked to comment on the matter, BCC’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Anthony Kasunda confirmed the development, saying it was true the city council was slashing maize crop in the city and not only in Ndirande Township.
“We are doing this because the maize was planted in the road reserves. The fact that people are not supposed to cultivate in road reserves and other fragile areas is known [to every resident] since the council has done awareness on this.
“This is not the first time the council has slashed maize crops; we have done it before,” clarified Kasunda.
On the complaints that BCC could have done this earlier rather than waiting for the maize crops to reach tussling stage, Kasunda said slashing maize crop at a tender stage results in the crop re-growing.
He therefore said the city council was just enforcing its by-laws and that all people that have encroached into the road reserves would be removed to bring sanity in the commercial city.
He stressed that the bylaws do not allow farming in the city.
“It is illegal to go beyond the limit of the road reserves, not only through cultivation but any activity that will compromise the road use,” he added.
Kasunda also highlighted that residents are also not allowed to cultivate along river banks, hills and other fragile areas within the city.