By Salome Gangire
Principal Agriculture Officer for Neno, Whytone Fole has advised farmers in the district to manage their fields well by ensuring that all structures that can help conserve soil and water be in place as the district may experience some dry spells in the 2023/2024 growing season.
He adviced lead farmers on Tuesday during a four-day training held to discuss sustainable land management under the Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project (MWASIP) implemented at Mkulumadzi catchment in the district.
The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) projected that Neno District may experience dry spell for 7 to 14 days in January, 2023 and more than one week in February.
Fole, therefore, said farmers were required to also construct check-dams in areas where the farmers experience excessive run-off on top of constructing infiltration ponds.
“There is need to construct swales, marker ridges, gully reclamation and various rainwater harvesting technologies to reduce run-off which increases loss of soil and use the water for crop production in times of dry spell,” added Fole.
The Principal Agriculture Officer said the training was held to refresh lead farmers on sustainable land management to equip them with soil conservation technologies so that they should realise bumper harvest.
Fole asked the lead farmers to share the information with fellow farmers saying they were expected to provide extension services considering that agricultural extension staff cannot reach all the farmers in the district due to their limited numbers.
“Lead farmers are important as they bridge the gap in their communities as they have influence and can lead by examples as models,” he said and encouraged them to plant trees, including fruit trees, in bare areas to provide forest cover and improve soil fertility.
One of the lead farmers from Mfundazi catchment, Rodgers Mbwana hailed the training saying it came at the time when most farmers were planning to plant maize crops in their fields.
“The training will help me to practice sustainable land management. With this knowledge, l am sure that I will harvest bumper yield in the face of dry spells. I am planning to plant early maturing maize variety,” he said.
The during the training, farmers will learn soil and water conservation, compost manure making, agroforestry, climate smart agriculture and environmental and social safeguards.