ZOMBA-(MaraviPost)-Over 850,000 households are likely to face hunger this year following a dry spell that has destroyed 234,000 hectares of crop fields, Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Spokesperson for the ministry, Osborne Tsoka, said that the figures might increase since assessments are ongoing.

“The ministry has not yet come up with the type of interventions to implement but, by the end of this week, we will be able to tell.

Obviously, we will be looking at areas like planting early maturing crops, drought tolerant crops like cassava and sweet potatoes.

“We will also think of planting other crops under irrigation but, in terms of how much to put in the intervention, we have not yet finalised that,” Tsoka said.

Meanwhile, Zomba District Agriculture Office indicates that 76, 525 households have been affected by the dry spell that has hit the district.

The report released on January 16 also shows that the households will be affected because 24,302 hectares of land have been hit by the dry spell with crops on 91 hectares wilting.

According to the report, the district experienced a dry spell from December 28 2017, affecting the whole district.

Director of Leadership for Environment and Development (Lead) Sosten Chiotha, described the situation as serious but said there is a need to do a systematic survey to come up with a clear picture.

He, however, downplayed sentiments that the situation might cause a food crisis, saying, until a thorough assessment is done, that cannot be the conclusion.

“As Lead we did measure the rainfall pattern and indeed in most areas in Zomba they did not receive sufficient rains. For instance, by January 12 this year, we had received 17 millimetres of rainfall, yet same period last year, we had received 150 millimeters so you can tell the difference,” Chiotha said.

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