APHLIS regional page

Malawi Cereal Postharvest Losses

In Malawi, smallholder farmers dominate the cultivation of cereals although in the case of maize there are some large-scale farmers in the Northern and Central provinces.  The climate of the Central and Northern provinces is humid sub-tropical (Cwa of the Köppen code) while the Southern province is tropical savannah (Aw), these differences affect the losses estimated by APHLIS.

In 2012, total cereal production was about 3.9 million tonnes of which an estimated 17.5% (or 0.69 million tonnes) was lost during harvest and other postharvest activities.  Most of this loss is contributed by maize both in absolute terms, i.e. because it has by far the largest production, and in relative terms as it suffers greater loss values (in 2012, 17-18% compared with 10-14% for other cereals).  Malawi is not affected by rains or damp weather at harvest so there is little difficulty in drying the crops and consequently losses due to mould damage are limited.  However, farmers complain of larger grain borer infestation of maize and this is an important source of loss, contributing 1.2% (or nearly 47,000 tonnes) to loss total.

The postharvest loss profiles (PLPs), used by the APHLIS calculator to estimate losses, are strongly specific to the situation in Malawi in the case of maize and rice, reasonably specific for millet and sorghum, but much less so for wheat.