Head of Agriculture Sector Wide Approach-support Project, (ASWAp), in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Nelson Mataka has said overwhelming adoption of improved agriculture technologies by small holder farmers in Chitipa District is a great stride in efforts to drive farmers away from use of poor and archaic agriculture practices which are blamed for environmental degradation.
Mataka made the remarks on Saturday during agriculture field day organized by Karonga Agriculture Development Division (KRADD), held at Mwamkumbwa and Kameme Extension Planning Areas (EPAs), in the areas of Chief Mwaulambia and Senior Chief Kameme, respectively, in Chitipa District.
During the field day, officials from ministry of agriculture , KRADD, private sectors and Chitipa District Council were amazed to see attractive vast fields of millet grown in ridges on an arable land, which was a surprise shift from the cherished traditional methods of millet growing farmers practice in the district.
Small holder farmers in Chitipa District previously used shifting cultivation, (slash and burn) method to grow millet, a practice which inflicted a lot of damage to natural trees, which lead to vast land being bare.
Mataka strongly commended small holder farmers in Chitipa District for adopting new agriculture technologies which he said play crucial role in ensuring maximum food production and in promoting environment conservation.
“Small holder farmers’ adoption of new farming technologies is a big milestone in government’s efforts towards fighting food insufficiencies at household levels as well as in promoting environmental conservation, which is key in ensuring sustainable agriculture production,” said Mataka.
Mataka observed that traditional methods of cultivation, including slash and burn to grow millet, have, to a larger extent been blamed for rampant deforestation which has significantly contributed in altering change in climate, whose negative effects he said interfere with sustainable agriculture production and general people’s livelihood, at large.
Lead farmers said small holder farmers quickly adopted the technology of growing millet in the ridges because the system reduces labour, it simplifies application of fertilizer and pesticides and it gives high yield per portion of land which a farmer can easily estimate without an effort.
The newly promoted methods of millet growing contradicts wildly nursed belief that opaque local beer (Mkontho or Chipumu) brewed from millet grown on arable land is not sweet and strong in comparison with beer from millet planted on a piece of land where a lot of trees have been cut down and burnt to ashes.
And at processing meeting held at Ilengo School Ground, in the area of Senior Chief Kameme, Mataka observed that farmers in the two EPAs visited had high prospects of realizing high maize yields and strongly cautioned against extravagant use of the food to avert food shortages.
He said food mismanagement, through overselling in lieu for money and post harvest loss due to damage caused by larger green borer are main causes of food shortages at house hold levels, even in times of attractive harvest, which he said must be checked.
KRADD Programme Manager, Aggrey Kamanga reported on the invasion of the ‘Fall Army Worm in the division, with Karonga District seriously hit.
Kamanga, however, said his office is fighting the strange pests by intensifying spraying of powerful cypermethrin and deltamethrin pesticides.
The PM thanked Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for coming to the rescue of the division by providing pesticide supplies to deal with the worms.
In his remarks, Senior Chief Kameme thanked government for launching Sustainable Agriculture Production Programme (SAPP) and ASWAp in Chitipa District, which he said have simplified the burden of crop production.
“The farming technologies the two programmes introduced in the district have helped in minimizing labour in the fields besides farmers realizing bumper crop yields in very small portions of land,” said Kameme.
Government, with the support from donor partners, launched SAPP and ASWAp programmes with an objective of helping farmers to maximize agriculture production to ensure food security as well as improved income levels at house levels, through use of simple to use and affordable improved agriculture technologies, in crop and animal production and fish farming.
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