Neno Geared Up for Conservation Agriculture
The Neno district council through its agriculture department has been alarmed by an increase in cases of soil erosion, persistent dry spells and droughts escalated by climate change and increase in population.
Most parts of the district are hilly and the district sits on Kirk Range mountain making arable land a nightmare.
This development forces farmers to practice mostly traditional means of agriculture which have dire impact on the environment and food productivity.
In an interview today with Zodiak, Neno District Land Resource Conservation officer Vincent Sambuka says unlike in the past when land was available when people were few, now people are cultivating in steep slopes and along river banks resulting in loss of fertile agricultural land and food insecurity.
"We have noted that many people are farming in steep slopes and along river banks which is bad to the land and the soils. This must be discouraged and encourage modern farming technologies", said Sambuka.
For example, he says, there is a need to reclaim land and teach farmers better ways of farming so that they produce more on a small piece of land and contribute to food security and improve nutritional levels of their families.
To reverse this, the council is now encouraging farmers to practice sustainable land management and climate smart agriculture related interventions such as contour marker ridge construction with vertiva hedge rose and swales together with conservation agriculture like integrated soil fertility management practices.
He said that " the use of swaleys for example ensures that water is not wasted while manure is crucial to the provision of the most needed plant nutrients".
A farmer from Donda Village under the area of Traditional Authority Chekucheku Adrian Banda says he used to cultivate along the river and during the tropical cyclone Freddy phenomenon, he lost all he crops and now he regrets.
"I planted vegetables and some maize along the river and I was using irrigation. But when cyclone struck I lost all my sweat. Now I have moved upland and am planting trees along the river", he said.
Neno District Commissioner Hudson Kuphanga has since asked people to engage agriculture extension workers for advice on the means of conserving the environment while maximising the use of the land they have.
On Tuesday next week, the council will launch its Catchment Management campaign under the theme " Integrated Catchment Management for Improved Nutrition and Food Security".
At the event, people will be accorded an opportunity to show case different conservation agriculture methods while others will tap knowledge and practice in their respective farms.