Commissioner calls for enhanced winter cropping in flood prone areas

The Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs Charles Kalemba has called on farmers in flood-prone districts to enhance winter cropping.

Speaking in Chikwawa District on the sidelines of a visit to places identified for relocating communities displaced by Tropical Storm Ana, Kalemba said it was high time farmers embraced winter cropping to achieve food security at household and community levels.

“It is illogical for farmers to keep on cultivating during the rainy season when their crops end up being washed away. I have visited a number of areas and I am impressed that communities are engaging in winter cropping. This is the path we need to take as a people. Communities need to be self-reliant by engaging in meaningful farming. Provision of relief food should be the last resort,” said Kalemba.

In January this year, Tropical Storm Ana-induced heavy rains affected 71, 716 hectares of cropped area, washing away and submerging crops such as maize, groundnuts, soybeans, tobacco, sesame, rice and cotton belonging to 91,016 farming households.

Commissioner Kalemba (R) at a maize field in Chikwawa 

Veronica Kampira, a twenty-seven-year-old farmer from Kamwaza Village, T/A Maseya; Chikwawa District, concurred with Kalemba saying she has had bumper harvests from winter cropping.

“I hardly plant during the rainy season. In December, [last year] I took the risk [of planting] and all the crops ended up being washed away by incessant rains. Last year, I yielded about 30 bags when I did winter cropping and from the look of things, I am destined for a higher yield this time around,” said the mother of two.

Veronica in her maize field

Between December 2021 and April 2022, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) led the implementation of a lean season response programme targeting 1.6 million food-insecure people in all the 28 districts and four cities of the country.

Under the programme, government provided 29,168 metric tonnes of maize valued at K6.56 billion and settled logistical costs for the distribution while development partners, which included WFP, EU/KFW, Irish Aid and UNICEF implemented cash transfers in Chikwawa, Mangochi, Balaka, Neno, Nsanje, Phalombe and Ntcheu.