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The first major wheat harvest has taken place in Malawi.
Africa Europe Ukraine

The first major wheat harvest has taken place in Malawi.

After numerous attempts, Malawi has finally achieved a successful large-scale wheat harvest using a variety of grain that is well-suited for its soil. This is seen as a potential solution to counter the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on grain imports in Africa.

Ronald Ngwira, the CEO of Pyxus Agriculture Limited, a company based in the United States and registered in Malawi, has stated that they are currently operating a farm in central Malawi with the goal of diversifying wheat seeds. Out of the approximately 80 varieties that have been tested since 2019, four have been deemed suitable for the soil in Malawi.

During the beginning of the initial major harvest this past weekend, Ngwira stated that wheat cultivation will aid Malawi in saving millions of dollars previously spent on importing wheat.

“According to Ngwira, Malawi purchases 200,000 tons of wheat for $48 million. It would take four years for Malawi to produce enough wheat on its own to meet our needs. While this may seem like a lengthy period, we are already on our way and will have the necessary seeds.”

Agricultural specialists in Malawi predict that wheat cultivation will yield approximately 90 metric tons, equivalent to half of the nation’s wheat demand.

On Friday, Malawian leader Lazarus Chakwera observed the gathering of crops at Mpale farm located in the Dowa district.

Chakwera stated that wheat farming could help Malawi become self-sufficient, but it will require collective effort and hard work to attain the desired outcome. He urged everyone to use modern technology to work towards this goal.

Malawi has long been heavily dependent on imported wheat, and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted food supply chains. According to the United Nations, Africa takes up 12.26% of grain imported from Ukraine.

A report from the United Nations states that the invasion of Ukraine by Russia caused a deficit of approximately 30 million tons of grain in Europe, as well as a significant rise in cost.

Wisdom Mgomezulu, an agricultural economist and lecturer at Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences, suggested that finding markets could serve as an additional source of foreign exchange for the country. He pointed out that wheat, being a high-value cash crop, is in high demand globally.

According to Mgomezulu, in order for Malawi to succeed, they must discover more viable methods of production that can provide a competitive edge, especially given the presence of established competitors in the market.

Mgomezulu suggested increasing investment in research and seeking additional funds and donors to support agronomists and researchers working to develop new crop varieties suitable for cultivation in Malawi. However, this will require further research into investment opportunities and potentially tapping into the export market.

Ngwira from Pyxus has announced their plan to sow 15,000 hectares of seeds in December in order to prepare farmers for large-scale wheat production in the upcoming year.