A.T. Spurling
Malawi forms the southern extension of the series of rift valleys which are such a prominent feature of the eastern side of the African Continent from Ethiopia to Malawi, the rift finally disappearing to the south of the Zambesi and Malawi. The total area of Malawi is some 119 311 square kilometres, of which approximately one third is covered by inland lakes. The southern and most highly populated region is 31 080 square kilometres in extent and supports over half the country's 4. 5 million people. Although the population is reasonably well distributed throughout this region there are local concentrations around the principal urban areas of Blantyre - Limbe and Zomba and approximately 150 000 people live in these two centres which are the present commercial and government capitals.

The nature of the landscape in Malawi, with its widely different altitudes (1830 m on the plateaux to 45 m in the lower part of the Rift Valley) and varying rainfall patterns (635 mm to 2540 mm) make it ideally suited for the production of a wide range of horticultural crops, as well as providing suitable conditions for a long production period for any particular crop. Due to the relatively high population densities in the Southern Region and resultant small farm sizes, horticultural crops provide a valuable means of maintaining a satisfactory gross output per farm or family.

However, the urban communities and numbers of wage-earners are relatively small and therefore the available market for perishable commodities is limited. At the present time, this restricted market for fruit and vegetables is inhibiting commercial development in the production of vegetables for export by air.

Spurling, A.T. (1973). VEGETABLE CULTIVATION AND RESEARCH IN MALAWI. Acta Hortic. 33, 21-24
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1973.33.2

Acta Horticulturae