Government, FUM say rainfall tricky

While most parts of the country seem to have started receiving rains, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) have advised farmers against rushing to plant maize.

In an interview yesterday, the ministry said it was tricky because such rains could be pre-season (chizimalupsya) or with climate change, it could also be the start of the normal rainfall season.

The first rains made some roads impassable

Over the past three days, most parts of the country have received persistent heavy rains that have also caused serious destruction to people’s property.

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has said the rains are a result of the meeting of south easterly and north easterly airflows.

But spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Osborne Tsoka yesterday advised farmers to observe the pattern first before thinking of planting.

He said: “What we can advise farmers is to keep on observing the current situation and also use their indigenous intelligence whether these rains are enough for them to plant.

“They must also consult agricultural officers who are conversant with their agro-ecological zones, otherwise it is tricky to say whether it is chizimalupsya or normal rains.”

Tsoka explained that with the different patterns in diverse localities, farmers are advised to be prepared but wait for some time before planting.

On his part, FUM president Alfred Kapichira Banda also concurred with the ministry saying people must wait before planting.

“The truth of the matter is this is chizimalupsa. Most areas have not started receiving these rains so for farmers to start planting will be risky.

“However, where there is sandy soil such as in Kasungu, farmers could plant because maize will germinate but where there is red or clay soils they should not plant. They can just start preparing now,” said Banda.

Director of Climate Change and Meteorological Services Jolamu NKhokwe said sometimes chizimalupsa could combine with the main rains but it is always important to verify with the ministry before planting.

“Different parts of the country have different soils. For instance, the same rainfall in Mzimba may not have the same impact on the soil with the soils in Thyolo,” he said.

Nkhokwe said it was only one day when the country received substantial amount of rains in a number of places and there were still some places that have not yet started receiving rains.

The director said from last Sunday to today most areas northern and some central areas will likely experience thundery showers accompanied with strong winds, thunder and lightning due to the presence of converging warm and moist air flow from the east with a cool and moist air mass flowing from the south east sweeping northwards through the country.

As from tomorrow (Wednesday) to this coming Sunday, most areas in the country are expected to experience sporadic thundery showers due to the interaction of surface airflow from north west associated with the deepening of an inland low pressure area over south western parts of southern Africa with the airflow from east and south east.

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