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Agro specialist calls for promotion of conservation farming

ZAMBIA has the capacity to end poverty in rural farming communities if the country continues to invest in conservation farming, a visiting Zimbabwean agriculture specialist Christians Thierfelder has said.
Dr Thierfelde who is maize and wheat Improvement Centre agriculture specialist, said Government and other stakeholders should continue encouraging farmers to produce more food through conservation farming, a move that can help to mitigate poverty in rural areas.
Dr Thierfelde told journalists when he toured selected maize and legume demonstration plots at Msekera Scientific Training Institute in Chipata on Monday, that empowering farmers with improved agricultural techniques and skills such as conservation farming will boost the sector and thus reduce rural poverty.
“We are trying to get the farmers out of poverty and Zambia can have rural areas, which are food secure if more investment is made in conservation farming,” he said.
He observed that Zambia has in the past four years recorded bumper harvests with Eastern Province being one of the provinces contributing to the development due to the increased number of farmers practicing conservation farming.
Dr Thierfelder also said the promotion of maize and legumes is important as the crops have potential to fight poverty at household level.
He said the maize and wheat improvement centre is implementing conservation farming in three districts namely, Chipata, Katete and Lundazi under a project, sustainable intensification of maize–legume cropping systems for food security in Eastern Province of Zambia (SIMLEZA)
SIMLEZA is helping farmers in three districts to increase food security at household level through conservation farming techniques.
Dr Thierfelder also urged farmers to practice crop rotation to ensure high yields and cut costs on fertilizer.
“Growing maize on one piece of land year after year reduces nutrients in the soil, farmers are therefore being encouraged to rotate crops. The only way farmers can spend less on fertilizer and increase their yields is by avoiding monoculture and start practicing inter-cropping and crop rotation which improves soils,” he said.