The harvest season kicked off in earnest early in the month of May. Most of the necessary harvesting preparations were done quite in advance for most crops across all farms, picking from lessons of the previous seasons. Indeed all farms attempt to get better every year in meeting the demands of the harvest period which is denoted by strict delivery deadlines and strict quality requirements by the various seed companies as well as other open market customers.
Malawi is an agro based country whose 80% of income depends on Agriculture. Over the years, the Country has been relying on Tobacco only as an export crop and sugarcane being the sole source of sugar to be added to any processed or unprocessed food for sweet taste. Exagris Africa Limited through Department of Agricultural Research Services is very much interested in going a mile in the taste foods by introducing STEVIA as a natural sweetener for almost several processed foods.
I always make the comment that once the rains have stopped we have only completed 50% of our work. The process of harvesting requires even more attention than the growing stage of our work. We are now reaping from the land the seed we have sown and seen grow and mature through the rains into a full crop. We know that as farmers we will only be able to reap from where we have sown. The harvest is ripe and ready. Reaping is the hard work we must put in to gain the benefits of the sowing and tending we have undertaken in recent months.
No one farming season has ever been exactly the same as the other, this being mainly driven by the season to season differences in weather patterns, particularly rainfall among other factors especially with dry land farming. Coming from the background of a 2015-2016 farming season that was characterised by drought and dry spells, all our prayers this time around, were focused on having a 2016-2017 farming season that would be blessed with abundant rains as widely predicted by weather experts. This gave us a lot of hope.
A proud Francis Blair stands in a field of Hybrid Paprika grown on the Exagris Katonthowolo Estate (KTW).
Francis has recently been transferred from Nkozo Estate in the same area where he worked among a number of other managers to KTW, he now manages the entire Estate under the guidance of his Area Manager Stewart Chipeta.
Despite a lower than average rainfall season the Hybrid Paprika is not showing any signs of distress and an acceptable yield is expected.
This is due to the fact that the imported seeds produce a better quality plant which reacts well to the high level of management exercised by Francis.
Exagris Africa Limited held a strategic planning workshop where heads of departments including farm managers with guidance from consultants Ian and Gareth Williams from Caplor Horizons (UK) met at Sol Farm in Lilongwe from the 19th – 23rd of October last year. During the workshop, the team strategized on the organizational policy, vision, mission statement and values for Exagris Africa Limited for the next 5 – 10 years.
A good soil and a healthy root system have a great value as regards to improved yields. This has been observed in most of the crops especially maize and paprika where Exagris Farms have produced yields ranging from 5,000kgs/ha to 9,000kgs/ha in Maize and more than 2,000kgs/ha in Paprika. In Malawi, a smallholder farmer can potentially produce up to 3,500kg/ha basing on the blanket recommendation on soil nutrient management. In Africa, the average commercial maize production has ranged from 4,500kgs/ha to 8,000kgs/ha over the past 10 years according to FAO (2010).
“If there are two things that should be remembered in my presentation, one is that Malawi needs to produce and secondly Malawi needs trade – it needs to export,” that was Tim de Borde, CEO for Exagris Africa, a farming giant in Malawi which also co-owns Afrinut, a peanut processing company. The remarks were made on 17th February 2016 during the visit to Exagris and Afrinut by the UK Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell.