By Kondwani Magombo, MANA
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa has urged farmers to embrace new technologies to harvest more yields in the wake of climate change challenges.
He made the call Thursday at Namiyasi Residential Training Centre (RTC) in Mangochi at the end of Machinga Agricultural Development Division (ADD) Field Day where the Minister toured and appreciated various agricultural activities in five sites.
Nankhumwa said he was impressed to note that most farmers in the district, in particular, and generally in Machinga ADD, had adopted new farming technologies that are beating the existing climate change effects.
“From the sites we have visited I have seen that the farmers are absorbing the new farming technologies such as use of locally made composite fertilizer called mbeya, and other technologies such as conservation agriculture: this is very impressive,” he said.
He urged the farmers to diversify their farming with livestock, saying the animals play a crucial role not only as source of food but as source of manure for the crops.
Nankhumwa said time had come for people in the country to take farming seriously and not just as a source of food.
“This is no longer time to practice agriculture just for food: we need to practice agriculture for business because there is a lot of money in farming business.
“Those people who have land near water resources get ready, government is engaging technical experts to train you in irrigation farming,” he added.
The Minister appealed to ADDs in the country to work closely with the civil society organizations with interest in agriculture as one way of enhancing new farming technologies and absorption of the same.
He visited two sites in Nansenga EPA and three sites in Mbwadzulu EPA where among others, he appreciated crop diversification and climate smart agriculture practices; banana and tomato commercial farming.
Nankhumwa appreciated Goat Pass-on programme and improved Khola, a project being implemented by the Malawi Disaster Reduction Programme Project (MDRPP); and Farmer Field School supported activities at Namiyasi Residential Training Centre (RTC).
The Field Day was held under the theme Agriculture Enterprise Diversification, Commercialization and Partnerships: Key to Sustainable Food, Nutrition and Income Security.
On the sidelines of the function, Nankhumwa announced that ADMARC will open its doors in the first week of April for farmers to start selling their produce.
He said government had realised that delays in procuring crops from farmers always gave vendors chance to deplete the produce from farmers at unreasonable prices.
“There were reforms that government made and we have put resources aside to start buying crop produce from farmers from the first week of April.
“We want to hit the market first, unlike in the past when we used to start buying in September when the vendors had depleted everything on the market.”
He further said within this month of March, his Ministry would announce farm gate prices for various crops to allow the farmers appreciate how much they would make out of their crops.
Earlier in the day during the field visit, Controller of Agriculture Extension Services, Margaret Roca Mauwa, urged farmers not sell their crops to vendors, describing the latter’s prices as too low for farmers to make profits.
Mauwa said by selling their produce to ADMARC, the farmers would be assured of getting it back in times of hunger since ADMARC is like a storeroom while with vendors the produce is lost for good.
The Field Day was conducted in five sites in Nansenga and Mbwazulu Extension Planning Areas (EPAs).
During the field day, the minister also appreciated Farmer Field School-supported activities at Namiyasi Rural Training Centre before addressing farmers.