Editor's Comment

Kalomo farmer worth emulating

THE effects of climate change are becoming more and more severe, manifesting through droughts and other hostile weather patterns such as excessive rains.
The need therefore for farmers to adapt and find new ways of maintaining high productivity and food security cannot be overemphasised.
This year, some parts of the country have been hit by drought with Southern Province being the most severely affected.
This is why President Edgar Lungu is in the area to flag off the distribution of relief food to the affected families.
However, it is comforting that in the midst of despair due to the hunger situation, there is a story of hope and inspiration.
One farmer in Kalomo, Raymond Mufwambi, has managed to escape the ravages of drought by planting early and using good seed variety.
When other farmers are lamenting of low or no yields at all for the 2018/2019 farming season, Mr Mufwambi is anticipating a good harvest.
A few other farmers who took the initiative like that of Mr Mufwambi have also escaped the net of hunger.
The initiative taken by Mr Mufwambi is worth emulating by all farmers across the country.
Farmers should draw lessons from Mr Mufwambi, who has defied drought to produce a good yield.
It is indisputable that climate change is here to stay and so are its effects, which include drought.
This, therefore, is a clarion call for farmers to adapt to the new weather patterns by strategising on innovative ways to sustain productivity.
As rightly noted by the head of State, farmers cannot carry on with their farming activities the same way they did before the effects of climate change.
Instead of mono-cropping, it is time farmers diversified to other crops, especially drought-resistant ones.
Through cooperatives and the Zambia National Farmers Union, farmers need to equip themselves with knowledge on new farming methods and other crops.
Instead of depending on maize, which requires more water, farmers should diversify to cultivating cassava and other crops, which are drought-resistant.
There is need for farmers to familiarise themselves with new seed varieties on the market.
Farmers should in particular go for early-maturing varieties to reduce on the risks of crop failure.
We’ve had situations where maize crop has failed at a late stage just before harvest.
Planting early-maturing varieties will ensure a good yield and food security in the midst of erratic rainfall.
Given the persistent droughts, it is clear that rain-fed farming is no longer reliable.
Farmers need to turn to irrigation as an alternative to rain-fed agriculture.
Knowing that irrigation requires huge capital, Government should shoulder the responsibility to ensure that irrigation systems are put in place.
It is commendable that Government is already working on a project to construct dams in six provinces.
This is indeed the way to go. While some dams have been completed, others are still under construction. However, given the threatening effects of climate change, there is need to expedite the construction of the remaining dams.
Government should also not relax but source more funding for more dams to be constructed. This is the only way more farmers will have access.
Looking at the unpredictable patterns of rainfall, Government, through its technocrats managing the Farmer Input Supply Programme, should ensure that farmers receive their inputs way before the rainy season.
There is urgent need to re-plan the distribution of inputs to allow farmers to plant early.
Late distribution of inputs should not be allowed to stand in the way of farmers’ productivity because it is a matter of planning by technocrats involved.
Farmers will do well to work towards being independent, by ensuring that they plan for inputs every harvest.
Actually the concept of FISP was not meant to keep farmers perpetually dependent on Government but give them a push and then wean them off.
It is therefore unfortunate that many farmers have been perpetually dependent on FISP for years.
Let them learn from farmer Raymond Mufwambi that solutions lie with themselves.

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