Mw govt urges farmers to conserve catchment areas

Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe has called farmers in the country to follow good agricultural practices to conserve catchment areas which in turn would increase agricultural productivity.

The Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe has called farmers in the country to follow good agricultural practices to conserve catchment areas which in turn would increase agricultural productivity.

The Minister was saying this on Wednesday during the launch of the National Catchment Conservation and Management Campaign in Machinga district.

The launch was organised by the Department of Land Resources Conservation in the Ministry of Agriculture with support from key stakeholders which include Agroecological Intensification Hub (AEI) at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), European Union through the KULIMA Project, Development Fund of Norway, Concern Worldwide, Catholic Relief Services, NASFAM, and Adaptation Fund Project among others

The Minister said sustaining increased agricultural production is currently threatened by many challenges including a high rate of land degradation, small landholdings, high poverty levels, climate change and use of low yielding crop varieties and animal breeds.

“Much of this land degradation is caused by soil erosion and depletion of plant nutrients that are aggravated by poor farming practices,” he said.  

Lowe further said that the application of organic manure has several advantages that farmers cannot afford to ignore saying besides improving soil fertility, compost manure increases the water holding capacity of the soil.

“Organic manure, therefore, improves soil structure, enhances rainwater infiltration, plant nutrient uptake and stabilising soil aggregates hence increased resistance to erosion. I wish therefore to encourage all farmers in the country to make and use good quality manure like the ones being promoted currently (Bokash, Nkhuti and Khola manures) and others, to sustain agricultural production,” he said.

In a sideline interview, LUANAR Agro-ecological Hub Coordinator which was a key partner in the launch, Professor Vernon Kabambe agreed with the Minister saying catchment areas are important for capturing water into underground soil reservoirs and rivers. 

“Poor catchment conservation leads to excessive soil erosion because of the steep slopes. The eroded soils fill up rivers and lakes making them flood and support less aquatic life. Also, wash off of soil and water takes with it fertilizers and other nutrients down to rivers and oceans, many times causing pollution due to excess,” he said.

Kabambe said the catchment and conservation management campaign is timely as climate change continues to negatively impact the agriculture sector and hence affecting agricultural production.

“The adoption of climate-smart agriculture that includes conservation agriculture, use of manure and irrigation farming provide a solution to mitigate the impacts of climate change by increasing yields and resilience,” he said.

He added that a lot of research exists to support the technologies that can be used in catchment conservation and soil fertility restoration.

“This includes research in agroforestry, conservation agriculture and pigeon pea rotation and intercropping among others hence stakeholders can use these evidence-based research in their interventions to conserve and manage the catchment areas,” said Kabambe.

Before the campaign official launch whose theme was “Reinvesting in Soil Health for Increased and Resilient Productivity”, farmers and stakeholders showcased initiatives meant to conserve and manage catchment areas.

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