Crops and climate in Malawi


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A presentation on the crops and climate in Malawi.

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Crops and climate in Malawi

  2. 2. Outline of Presentation • The Agricultural Sector in Malawi • Historical Background • Malawian Agriculture in the Context of Climate Change • Climate Change Impacts • Farmer Perceptions of Changes in Rainfall • Farmers Response to Climate Change Impacts • Proposed Adaptation Strategies • Government Response
  3. 3. The Agricultural Sector in Malawi • Mainstay of the Malawi economy – Accounting for between 36 and 39 percent of GDP – Employs about 80 percent of the country’s labour f force – Accounts for over 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings – Contributes to national and household food security • Bimodal production – Estate or commercial subsector • Land under leasehold or freehold • Grows mostly export crops e.g. tobacco, tea, coffee
  4. 4. Agricultural Sector – Smallholder subsector • Comprises the majority of the rural population working on fragmented smallholding under customary land tenure system • Obtains lower yields than the estate subsector • Female-headed households cultivate even smaller land holdings than their male-counterparts • Maize, cassava, sweet potatoes and pulses are grown for food • Cash crops: tobacco, soybeans, groundnuts, beans and vegetables • Total area under cultivation is between 2.2 and 2.5 million ha, of which more than 90 percent comprises small farms
  5. 5. AGRICULTURAL SECTOR • 81% of the population aged over 15 years depends on subsistence agricultural activities • Almost all households (97%) engaging in farming activities grow maize • As result, food security in Malawi is associated with maize production • Maize is grown on over 50% (almost 1.5 million hectares) of the available arable land • The per capita consumption of maize is approximately 130 kg • Maize is responsible for 60% of the total calorie consumption
  6. 6. Historical Background • Millet and sorghum were the key staple crops in Malawi until the turn of the 20th century • These were replaced by maize to the extent that by the end of the 20th century, per capita consumption of maize in Malawi was the highest in the world. • Maize ha has risen since 2006/07 due to introduction of FISP • FISP is responsible for yield response of 15.5kg grain per kg of N for maize • FISP is also credited for the increased adoption of improved varieties of both maize and legumes • The dominance of maize has had tremendous influence on breeding programs and the seed industry in Malawi
  7. 7. 0 500,000 1,000,000 1,500,000 2,000,000 2,500,000 3,000,000 3,500,000 1982/83 1983/84 1984/85 1985/86 1986/87 1987/88 1988/89 1989/90 1990/91 1991/92 1992/93 1993/94 1994/95 1995/96 1996/97 1997/98 1998/99 1999/00 2000/01 2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 Area(HA) Production Area (HA) MAIZE(HA)) GROUNDNUTS (HA) Pegeon peas (HA) soya beans (HA)
  8. 8. Malawian Agriculture in the Context of Climate • More than 95% of Malawian agriculture is rainfed • Nearly all smallholders rely on rain-fed agriculture • As such anything that affects agriculture has far reaching effects on smallholder farmers and the economy at large.
  9. 9. Interaction of Climate Change and other Variables in Malawi • Malawi’s population of about 15 million is projected to reach 26million in 2030 • Given Malawi’s dependence on natural resources, the high rates of population growth combined with HIV/AIDS, climate change and competition for water between agriculture and other uses have far reaching implications on the country’s sustainable development • Malawian agriculture is heavily reliant on smallholder farming, which is highly vulnerable to climate changes. • Thus, both farmers and the national economy are victims of adverse weather conditions
  10. 10. Climate Change • One of the biggest global challenges of the 21st • Reality of climate change and its effects is more apparent in Malawi as evidenced by:  Increased frequency of droughts and floods  More droughts and floods have occurred in the last decade (2000- 2010) than in the past three decades (1970 – 2000)  Poor onset of rainy season e.g. In 2011/12 season- there was poor rainfall in all districts of the country for about 20 days in the month of December 2011 (Met Dept 2011 reports) resulting in wilting of crops  Erratic rainfall  Prolonged dry spells  Floods affected Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and Mulanje districts of the Southern Region  Increased incidences of diseases and parasites  Mosquitoes and malaria occurrences have increased due to rising temperatures  In some districts in 2011 there was an outbreak of army worm which affected a second crop
  11. 11. Climate Change • Average annual disaster distribution in Malawi is floods (54%), droughts (15%), storms (2%), earthquakes (2%) and epidemics (27%). • Mean annual temperature has increased by 0.9 degrees Celcius between 1960 and 2006, an average rate of 0.21 degrees Celcius per decade. • The increase in temperature has been most rapid in the rainy summer (December-February) and lowest in the hottest season (September- November).
  12. 12. Climate Change Impact • Food security assessment done by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC forecast April 2012 to March 2013) showed that an estimated total population of 1,630,007 were rendered food insecure • Nearly all the districts of the Southern Region were affected with food shortage in the 2012/13 consumption season • Prices of maize and other crops rose due to low yields thereby making it difficult for the poor to purchase food.  For instance maize prices rose from MK3000 to MK10,000- MK15,000/50kg bag • Floods cause annual losses of about 12 percent of maize production in the south, where about one-third of Malawi’s maize is grown.
  13. 13. Climate Change Impact • Thus the combined forces of population growth and climate change: Diminish the quality and amount of viable agricultural land available to each family and for commercial farming Reduce agricultural production and aggravate food insecurity Accelerate depletion of the environment and natural resources such as forests and water Undermine efforts to enhance wealth creation and poverty reduction in the country Induced severe disasters leading to loss of life
  14. 14. Farmer’s Perceptions of Changes in Rainfall (Simelton et al. (2013) • Climate change is making livelihoods more difficult and vulnerable • People report that rainy season is becoming ever more unpredictable Temperatures are hotter and the rains are arriving later and becoming more intense and concentrated which reduces the length of the growing season and triggers more droughts and floods (Table)
  15. 15. Amount Frequency Intensity Inter-annual variability Erratic rainfall Rains come on one side of the farm and not the other The pattern is very different from the past-very unreliable Onset Onset is much later- it used to rain in September, now it comes in December, January or not at all Onsets are more unpredictable with dry spells after planting It used to rain for three days, then dry for a couple of days, then rain 3 days. Rains are also heavier or little, light and random and not reliable In the past I knew when the rains were going to start Duration Insufficient rainfall is the biggest challenge There are fewer rainy days now Much more concentrated in heavy down pours. Floods and droughts start at same time We used to have abundant rains in the 1970s/80s and early 1990s. Changes started from the 2000 Cessation The rainy season finishes 1-2 months earlier now Erratic rains they stop earlier In the past we used to have June and July rains now it never rains in those months Confounded perceptions My parents used to harvest more than we do now People cutting trees cause the problems of erosion and flooding People started growing hybrids due to the unpredictable rains 1966-1994 rains fell from October to May. Later things changed
  16. 16. Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture and the Economy • Models estimate that floods may cause an average GDP loss of almost 1 percent every year but during drought periods, economic losses are much higher. • Together, droughts and floods constitute a major obstacle to agriculture and food security in the country. • Droughts increase poverty by 1.3 percentage points (roughly equal to an additional 2.1 million people falling below the poverty line). • Drought destroys on average 4.6 percent of maize production each year in Malawi based on today’s adoption of different varieties.
  17. 17. Farmers Response to Climate Change Impacts • Changing rainfall patterns and higher temperatures are forcing farmers to:  Shorten the growing season  Switch to more expensive hybrids or OPVs such as ZM 309 (early maturing) ZM 523  Adopt climate smart agricultural technologies such as Conservation Agriculture  Intensify winter cropping and small scale irrigation  Intensify production of drought tolerant crops such as cassava  Engage is rain water harvesting technologies  Embark on livelihood diversification
  18. 18. Proposed Adaptation Strategies • Provision of short-term weather forecast data to farmers e.g. 10 day forecast • Use of minimum and reduced tillage technologies in combination with planting of cover crops • Small scale irrigation systems using treadle pumps for winter cropping • Development of catchment management plans for rivers for improved water supply for irrigation • Establishment of tree nurseries for fruit trees and other species
  19. 19. Government Response • The Government of Malawi has committed to address the dual challenges of climate change and rapid population growth • The MGDS II puts management of climate change, natural resources and the environment as one of the nine development priority areas • The Government has created the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change- has developed a national climate change policy
  20. 20. Government Response • The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has embarked on promotion of: Small scale irrigation programs Greenbelt Initiative Information production and dissemination Climate smart agriculture practices: Rotations and crop associations Diversified and integrated food-energy systems Conservation Agriculture Rainwater harvesting
  21. 21. References • Actalliance (2012) . Looming food crisis in Malawi. Act Alert Reference Nr.: 25/2012. • Hachileka, E. And Vaatainen, S. (2011). Climate change coping and adaptation strategies: Case of Chiawa Community in Lower Zambezi, Zambia. Windhoek: RAEIN Africa Secretariat. • Simelton, E. et al. (2013) Is rainfall really changing? Farmer’s perceptions, meteorological data, and policy implications. Climate and Development, 2013. • Stringer, L. et al. (2010) Adaptation to climate change and desertification: Perspectives from national policy and autonomous practice in Malawi. Climate and Change 2: 145-160. • Yates, L. (2009). New climate-ready maize varieties released in Malawi. DTMA Malawi OPV Variety Release. • Zulu, E., Ciera, J. Mutunga, C., and De Souza, R. (2012). Population dynamics, climate change and sustainable development in Malawi. Nairobi & Washington, DC.: African Institute for Development Policy.