BLADD decries low uptake in conservation agriculture

BLANTYRE: Blantyre Agriculture Development Division(BLADD)has expressedconcernover lowadoption of conservation agriculture by farmers in the just ending 2017/2018 growing season with the division registering a decline in hectares under the practice for the first time since it was introduced in the late 1990s.

The division planned to increase the hectarage under conservation agriculture in this year’s growing season by 2,089 hectares but only managed to cover 1,535 hectares representing a 73 percent increase.

In terms of farmers practicing the method, at least 8, 279 joined the conservation agriculture representing a 66 percent increase but the figure was short of the projected 12, 000 farmers.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency on Wednesday, Chief Land Resources Conservation Officer for BLADD, Medison Thole attributed the development to the outbreak of fall army worm and dry spells that affected most fields during the agriculture season.

Our experience has shown that over the years, there has been an increase in the number of smallholder farmers practicing conservation agriculture to maximize their crop yield except early this year due to outbreak of fall army worms as many farmers were jittery to conserve their crop residues.

But fortunately we embarked on a campaign to sensitize the farmers not to burn the crop residues so that they could benefit from practicing conservation agriculture in as far as maximizing crop yields is concerned, he said.

Thole, therefore, appealed to farmers to put much effort on conservation agriculture practices in light of effects of climate change to mitigate the problem of food insecurity in the country.

This type of farming has a number of benefits as compared to conventional type of farming. For instance, some of the farmers who adopted conservation agriculture are realising more yield on a small piece of land and have food for consumption and surplus for sale thereby contributing towards national economic development, Thole said.

As such, our officers will continue intensifying the agriculture system so that many farming households enjoy the fruits of such type of farming, he added.

Conservation agriculture is an agriculture system which helps to mitigate the effects of climate change on crop production and it constitutes mulching coupled with minimal soil disturbance and crop rotation, among others.

Malawi has been practicing the system to enable farmers maximize crop yields within limited piece of land thereby promoting food security at household and national levels.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA