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Saturday, 14 July 2018 15:10

Ministry asks farmers to intensify irrigation farming

Written by  Salome Gangire

Mzuzu, July 13, 2018: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has asked farmers that have access to water resources to intensify irrigation farming to supplement their food reserves from rain-fed produce.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry, Gray Nyandule Phiri said over-reliance on crop production from a single rain season may result in perpetual annual food deficits in the face of climate change.

“Moreover food demand in Malawi has been steadily increasing because of the increase in population which is estimated to be close to 18 million,” he said.

He was speaking on Thursday at Mpherembe Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Mzimba during the launch of National Tripartite campaign launch for manure, irrigation farming and livestock feed preservation.

Phiri said most farmers in Malawi depend on rain-fed agriculture which is now characterized by erratic rainfall patterns due to climate change. He therefore expressed the need for a shift to irrigation farming.

“The onset of rains has become unpredictable; frequent flash floods and dry spells are common occurrences. Again, the rainy season’s length has been reduced resulting in low food production and livestock feed shortage,” he said.

He further said agriculture remains the important sector for socio-economic development of Malawi as it contributes nearly 30 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and brings about 80 per cent of foreign earnings.

According to the principal secretary, that was why his ministry and other stakeholders are promoting irrigation farming and use of manure to restore the environment and reverse land degradation and adapt to climate change.

The PS said irrigation farming is recommended for improved productivity, thereby sustaining more households with increased availability of food and income.

He, therefore, advised farmers to start irrigation farming soon after harvesting the rain-fed crop, saying this would enable them to utilize residual moisture and harvest two irrigated crops.

Inkosi Mpherembe of Mzimba concurred with the Agriculture Ministry’s PS that farmers should venture into irrigation farming for them to have increased crop produce for food and income in their homesteads.

He said since the agriculture sector is hit with climate change which has adverse effects on agriculture, there was need for farmers also to adopt conservation agriculture technologies.

The launch of National Tripartite campaign for manure, irrigation farming and livestock feed preservation was held under the theme “Rich earth, rich people; restore our environment for sustainable productivity.”

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