April 4th, 2013 by PPillay Posted in Climate change, Countries, English, Malawi | No Comments »
Mary Ligomba in front of her failed maize crop (2011 -12 crop season) Photograph: Zilani Khonje
Travelling between the Malawi’s capital Lilongwe and Blantyre the commercial city can be exciting. The five-hour journey takes you through three districts of Dedza, Ntcheu and Balaka. The latter is regarded as a rain shadow area but also its one of the districts normally hit with prolonged dry spells during the rainy season. Cotton is the common cash crop because of the high temperature in the district. Another common sight passing through the district is dry wilted maize. Now this has been spared in 2013, as the rains according to the meteorological department, have been normal. Good news for farmers in the area I must say.
Nevertheless, for past three years, 42-year-old Paulina Banda from Kamowa village in Blantyre district has experienced a reduction in her crops harvest. Like many in her village, Paulina can relate the decreasing crop to climate change and variability. For them, the prolonged dry spells resulting from erratic rainfall have increased poverty in many household as villagers keep selling their goats and other household items to purchase food. For others, charcoal burring, and casual labour has become the only source of income to support them to buy food for the family. In Balaka and Blantyre rural, the forest is fast disappearing because of charcoal burning. Soil fertility has been lost due to erosions caused by deforestation. With loss of soil nutrients, crop productivity is highly affected hence reduction in quality production of both food and cash crops in the two districts.
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