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Heat wave threatens maize yield

The country has in the past week been experiencing extreme weather conditions which have led to most parts of the country registering a spike in temperatures.

Being the rainy season one would expect more rain and less of the heat, such has however not been the case. This has in turn threatened the livelihoods of famers that depend on maize for food and also as a source of income.

Expected yields might drop as the crop has since wilted in most parts of the country. On average, Malawi produces about 1.2 metric tonnes of the crop annually.

According to a statement from the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, the highest temperature recorded in the past week was 45 degrees Celsius at Bangula Meteorological Station in Nsanje district.

Director of the Department Jolamu Nkhokwe indicates that though this is normal considering that we are in the month of November, the temperatures are however higher than expected.

Commenting on the threat this may have on farmers, agricultural commentator Tamani Nkhono Mvula suggested that farmers consider planting more draught resilient crops or simply utilizing our water bodies for irrigation purposes.

“We have many rivers and even lakes in the country, the government needs to enhance irrigation farming using already available resources that do not require much resources even to implement,” Nkhono Mvula said.

“Climate change is here and these are the effects, our farmers however do not know much, they need to be made aware and accept that the world has changed,” he added.

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An environmentalist who specializes in issues concerning climate change is predicting that such occurrences will be more common in the future.

Dorothy Tembo-Nhlema said that there are currently 40 days every year in the country with temperatures exceeding 35 degrees Celsius but the days may increase to 50 by 2030.

“The likelihood of experiencing more heat waves is very high due to the impact that greenhouse gases have had on the environment and this is not only in Malawi but global,” Tembo-Nhlema added.

The United Nations Environment Program confirms this citing that average temperatures have been on the rise for the past five years.

The World Meteorological Organization recently cited that the year 2019 was the second hottest year on record.

Every decade since the 1980s has been warmer than the previous one. This trend is expected to continue because of record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that has caused our climate to change.

 

 

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