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Malawi maize output to reach 8.8% as rains return

Malawi’s maize production will increase by 8.8% in the 2020 crop season as much-needed rainfall helps to raise yields, its agriculture ministry said on Thursday. 

The small southern African nation, among the poorest in the world, is heavily dependent on agriculture. The sector employs nearly 80% of the population and accounts for two thirds of export earnings, with maize forming the main food staple.

But harvests recently have been hit by a combination of extreme heat and heavy flooding, with El Nino-induced drought in recent years combining with electricity shortages and political uncertainty to rip a hole in the economy. 

The country is targeting GDP growth of up to 6% this year after slack expansion of about 3% in 2018.

The increase in maize production is thanks to increased yields because of favourable weather conditions, Gray Nyandule-Phiri said in a statement. 

The minister said that cumulative rainfall performance between November and January, the peak growing season, was much better than the same period last year. 

“Most parts of Malawi received well-distributed normal seasonal rainfall,” he said, adding that Malawi was experiencing “El Nino Southern Oscillation Neutral conditions”, which would bring improved rainfall until March.

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