Balaka District Agriculture Development Office (Dado) has bemoaned the decline of cotton production in the district.
The district’s environment and natural resource officer Denis Zingeni said this on Wednesday on the sidelines of a Civil Society Organisation Nutrition Alliance (Csona) Food Systems Dialogue.
He said cotton was the district’s main cash crop, but has dropped by about 40 percent because of poor prices and unreliable markets.
Said Zingeni: “Balaka experiences a lot of shocks such as prolonged dry spells, flash floods, heavy infestation of pests and diseases which affect food crops.
“For the past two years we have struggled with poor cotton prices leading to food insecurity as people rely on cotton to finance household needs.”
He said the district will mobilise cotton farmers into cooperatives for value-addition to discourage them from selling maize.
Csona programmes officer Joseph Gausi said they wanted to give a platform to people to discuss food system issues.
“People should suggest solutions to their nutrition needs,” he said.
In random interviews, cotton farmers say government’s minimum price of K320 per kilogramme was low.
Joseph Kamwendo of Senzani Cotton Farmers Club said the minimum price discouraged farmers from growing cotton next season.
“This will force farmers to sell maize to get money for their basic necessities,” he said.
Balaka is this year expected to harvest 105 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize from 56 000 hectares against total consumption of over 170 000.