Faced with adverse effects of climate change and fall army worms (FAW), chiefs, Members of Parliament (MP), Councilors, government officials and other stakeholders converged at Kasungu Council Chamber on Wednesday to discuss the calamities.
Organized by National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM) the meeting aimed at getting information on how the district has been affected by climate change and FAW and what is being done about these issues.
Most of the contributors said the district has been highly affected by climate change a thing which has stolen the districts’ glory in agriculture.
Councilor Charles Binya of Mbongizi Ward said every rainy season there is usually dry spells in the district.
“When we plant our crops and apply fertilizer we expect rains, but most of the times the rains disappear in the middle of the season for weeks,” said Binya.
Another councilor Chisomo Mbembeza of Kambira Ward, said pattern of rains in the district has also been affected.
“The rains used to cover a very big and wide area but now the rains only fall in isolated places, a thing which affects the crops,” said Mbembeza.
The participants also said the FAW may have also come because of climate change saying farmers plant late because the rains also come late a thing which gives the FAW chance to spread easily.
Some of the issues that came out included; water table being too low, high temperatures and rivers drying up quickly.
The participants however agreed that cutting down of trees has contributed to climate change and that there is need to be serious with replacing them.
Circle for Integrated Community Development (CICOD) Kasungu Projects Officer, Joseph Nthondo, said trees are planted every year but are nowhere to be seen. He said Government needed to have deliberate policies to reward those who have managed to take care of the trees and also reprimand those who fail.”
MP for Kasungu West, Madalitso Kazombo suggested that there is need to diversify farming.
“We usually think of crops, but we should also think of livestock. We must have farmers who can manage to raise livestock, have proper feed and also have proper markets and with this we can have somewhere to run to,” said Kazombo.
The participants also suggested that some local maize varieties have proven to be resistant to FAW.
Acting District Agriculture Development Officer (DADO) Friday Mwanakhu talked of collaboration among all stakeholders after a suggestion of need for by laws enforcement where people cultivate along rivers or even in rivers.
“We need to all hold hands if the bylaws are to work. If the communities are the first to realize that it is wrong to cultivate in river banks, then it will be easy to enforce the bylaws,” Mwanakhu said.
NASFAM’ Coordinator for Climate Smart Agriculture, Frazer Mataya said the meeting was aimed at getting new information which may prove important to smallholder farmers.
“This meeting is important because there is sharing of information and the information is harmonized which helps better planning. This can also help to see how best we can move on so that the smallholder farmers can benefit in as far as climate change and FAW are concerned,” said Mataya.
Mataya also said that there is need for farmers to adapt to changes and be resilient by adopting climate smart crop agriculture strategies.
Coupled with FAW, climate change has caused reduced food, water and pasture availability and also reduced income.