Malawi FANRPAN Policy Brief

Crop production is the main stay for more than 70 percent of Malawians. Unfortunately, because of high dependence on rainfall, many farming families barely meet their daily food and nutritional requirements. Climate related risks to crop production in Malawi include the late onset of planting rains, uneven rainfall distribution, dry spells and drought, strong winds, hail storms and floods. Smallholder farmers largely depend on rainfall for their crop production. Late onset of planting and uneven distribution of rainfall affects crop growing conditions. For instance, during the 2013/2014 growing season, parts of Lilongwe experienced heavy rainfall in January/February when maize was in a vegetative stage. When most crops (such as maize) were at a very critical stage (tasseling and cob filling), there was little rainfall. This greatly affected the quantity and quality of the harvest. Uneven distribution of rains may also affect crop suitability in agro ecological zones. Crops that did very well in the past may not perform well.