Rainfall activity over Malawi is subsiding signaling an end to the rainy season.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security released its second round crop production forecasts on March 28, 2003. Most of the crops have registered a drop in production from what was initially estimated in the first round. Maize production forecast has been revised downwards from 2,032,271 in the first round to 1,900,975 MT, representing a drop of 6 percent.
The government through the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) is still holding large stocks of maize. ADMARC maize sales amounted to only about 41,000 MT by the end of March.
Free food distribution will continue until May/June to prevent households from early consumption of the current crop which would compromise their future food security.
Local market maize prices are beginning to show signs of decline as households begin to harvest their crops. Maize prices in local markets ranged from an average of MK16.6/kg to MK21.5/kg in March 2003. These prices are much lower than at the same time last season.
Livestock prices remain stable and higher than at the same time last season.
1. FACTORS AFFECTING CROP PRODUCTION
a. Agro-climatic Conditions
Rainfall activity over Malawi subsides as the rainy season draws to an end.
Most parts of the country experienced normal rainfall through the end of March 2003.
Rainfall activity over Malawi is subsiding, signaling the end of the rainy season. Officially the rainfall season covers the period from October 1 through March 31. However, some parts, especially in the northern region, continue to receive rains after this period. Normally the rains start from the southern region and progress towards the northern region in a period of about a month. The end of the season also follows the same pattern. Most parts of the country experienced light rainfall sparsely distributed over time. However, during the last 10 days of March most parts of the country experienced incessant rains. As a result, most areas registered above normal rainfall during this period except for some parts of Chitipa and Karonga in the northern region and Dedza in the central region. However, the excess rains did not cause flooding. The first map in Figure 1 shows the rainfall distribution for the last ten days of March.
Despite the late onset of rains, dry spells and low rainfall experienced between end of January and early March 2003, most parts of the country had experienced normal cumulative rainfall amounts (between 75 and 125 percent of the expected rainfall) by the end of March with an exception of below normal rainfall (below 75 percent of the expected rainfall) at Nsanje in the lower Shire Valley. Above normal cumulative rainfall (above 125 percent of the expected total rainfall) amounts had been received around Mzuzu in the north and over an area stretching from Dedza to Lake Malawi through Bwanje Valley by end-March. The second map in Figure 1 shows cumulative rainfall distribution from October 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003.
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