In the past few weeks there have been reports in the media of crop failures in Malawi.
John has just arrived in Malawi and travelled up from Lilongwe to Mzuzu. It appears there are a number of complex issues besides the very late rains which continued longer than usual. In the central region the crop yields are down between 50% and 25%. Much of the crop is standing ready for harvesting and the estimate looks right as many fields will produce very low yields particularly if the farmer or family could not afford fertilizer or planted at the wrong time ( for the odd rain pattern this year) The maize which has been harvested is left on the field to dry and ripen. However the recent heavy late rains have damaged the drying cobs
In the northern region where the maize is harvested later the crops are at a critical stage .When the rains were needed to swell the cobs before harvesting the weather was dry and the cobs did not fully mature. Further north in the Livingstonia synod area the rains have been good and a good crop expected.
However, on visiting Ekwendeni hospital and speaking with staff, the wards are packed. In the children’s ward, there are often 3 to a bed at night- mostly malaria and nutrition issues. The staff say the current position is the worst they have seen for many years, and the shortage of food is becoming a worrying factor. Many families are currently down to 2 small meals a day of meagre rations.
Heavy recent flooding in the Mzuzu area has affected many families and the CCAP and others have been involved in a relief exercise in providing hot food, blankets and clothing. The Livingstonia hospital and the mission station on the Livingstonia plateau are inaccessible due to rain damage and government ‘construction work’ on the Gorodi road and landslips on the back road.
Container 100 unloaded in wall to wall sunshine – otherwise there has been almost continuous rain since John arrived..