Climate & Agriculture
Malawi enjoys a sub-tropical climate and the weather is usually quite predictable. Here is the pattern for the seasons:
Hot wet season: December–April
Too much or too little rain
During the rainy season, Malawi is prone to flash floods and some rural areas become difficult to reach. Once the rains start in earnest, it rains almost every day; as much as 15cm of water can fall. In 2008, severe flooding occurred, damaging infrastructure across the country. Conversely, droughts also hit the country in some years and Malawi has to protect itself against famine.
Nearly all of Malawi’s rain (over 95%) falls during this warm and wet season. Temperatures usually range from 14–24°C, although they can reach into the 30s around the lake and in southern areas. On the high plateaux, temperatures are generally lower.
Cool dry season: May–August
During the middle months of the year, temperatures vary from 10°C up to 27/28°C in the southern valleys. In the northern region, it can be cold at night, with temperatures dipping down to 5°C. In some isolated areas, such as in the upper plateau areas, there can even be frosts.
Malawi sits along a rift in the earth’s plates, where the earth’s surface is fracturing because of plate movement. Malawi therefore suffers from earthquakes. In 1989, a major earthquake killed nine people and left tens of thousands of Malawians homeless. Another series of quakes struck in 2009.
Hot dry season: September–November
At this time of the year, temperatures can vary from around 16°C–35°C. In some areas, such as around Lake Malawi and in the Shire Valley, they can soar up to 42°C. The temperatures remain high until the rainy season begins, though it can be hot and humid then, so the rains don’t necessarily bring relief.
A nation of growers
Farmers grow crops such as maize for the local market and tobacco, tea and sugar for export. Small-scale farmers also grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in their fields and gardens. Even when Malawians move to the towns and cities, they often return to their home villages to plant and harvest land they've inherited. Malawians are a nation of growers.
Common fruits and vegetables include pineapples, guavas, mangoes, papayas, tangerines, lemons, cucumbers, eggplants, carrots, green peppers and cabbage, depending on the season and region. Main crops are usually maize (corn), beans and rice.