18 December 2018
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Friday, 19 October 2018 06:20

Farmers encouraged to plant drought resistant crop varieties

Written by  Charles Mphwere
Farmers encouraged to plant drought resistant crop varieties  - File Photo Farmers encouraged to plant drought resistant crop varieties - File Photo

Blantyre, October 18, 2018: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has urged farmers in the country to plant crops that can withstand harsh weather conditions as one way of averting the looming dry spell which is feared may affect the southern region and parts of the central region.

Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Osborne Tsoka, said this in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana), Thursday, following a growing misconception among farmers that the country will receive good rains due to early onset of preliminary rains.

“There are seventy per cent chances that we might receive insufficient rainfall in some parts of the central region and the whole of the southern region which means that we have 30 per cent chance that we might get better rains.

“As a ministry, we keep sensitizing the public on planting early-maturing maize varieties and that they should also engage in drought tolerant crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes and sorghum,” he said.

Tsoka said in some areas, the ministry will focus on training the public on water harvesting techniques.

“In certain areas, we will be teaching farmers about water-harvesting technologies and where possible, we will engage in irrigation farming to ensure that they have sufficient food,” he said.

Tsoka further said the ministry is working around the clock to sensitize farmers on the looming dry spell through the use of agricultural extension officers as well as radio programmes.

“In addition, we still have various means of reaching out to farmers which include; newsletters and fortnight messages that go out to the farmer,” he said.

On preliminary rains being experienced across the country, Tsoka warned farmers not to plant maize until they experience continuous rainfall for the next two weeks.

“These are just preliminary rains (chizimalupsya) and people need not to plant. However, we ask the farmers to use their own experience based on their respective areas,” he said.

When contacted, Director of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (MET), Jolamu Nkhokwe declined to comment on whether people should start planting or not, saying the Ministry of Agriculture was better paced to advise the farmers.

“When it comes to issues of planting, it is the Ministry of Agriculture which decides because every place has different soil and experts on the ground that make such decisions,” Nkhokwe said.

Since MET released 2018/2019 rainfall season forecast which indicated that there will be dry spells in some parts of the central and the whole of the Southern Region, this information seems not to settle well with many Malawians considering that many are of the view that the nation will receive better rains.

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