Balaka farmers hails CABMACC for ISFM project
Farmers in Ulongwe EPA in Balaka has commended CABMACC for supporting a Scaling Out Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) Approaches to Improve Crop Resilience to Climate Change project which is being implemented in the area.
This was said during a recent visit by CABMACC communication team in the districts of Balaka and Dedza.
One of the farmers, Zondani Michael, a lead farmer from Chipsali village T/A Amidu in the district thanked CABMACC for coming up with the project saying the trainings attained through the ISFM project has enabled him to produce more as compared to before its implementation.
“The project introduced different climate smart technologies to us lead farmers’ fields and use these farms to demonstrate the benefits of the technologies to all our fellow farmers in our village,” said Michael.
He said since the introduction of the project which is also promoting legume production, he has ventured into serious legume production which in turn has improved his family livelihood through selling of the produce.
“Previously I could not grow groundnut thinking that it was just a luxury, but the project opened my eyes and realized that I could make more money through groundnut farming. Despite these erratic rainfall I managed to get 10 bags,” he said.
He further said through conservation agriculture which the project is promoting, he managed to harvest enough maize for his family and that he is no longer facing food shortage saying he has already prepared for next farming season to continue with this type of farming.
Patrick Gondwe, an Agriculture Extension Development Officer (AEDO) in Ulongwe EPA said through this research project farmers were given leguminous seeds of cowpeas, groundnuts and pigeon peas whereby in the first year they were supposed to plant them on pure stands and in the coming 2016/2017 season they are expected to plant, maize where they planted these so that they should be able to see if these legumes can really improve soil fertility and improve production per unit area.
“So far there is change in terms of productivity as the project is also looking at conservation agriculture. Here in Balaka especially in our EPA, we had dry spells in the 2015/2016 season but those farmers who practiced conservation agriculture got better yield as compared to those who didn’t practice it. As of now we can say the results has been satisfactory,” said Gondwe.
He said then project has inspired more farmers who are now willing to practice conservation agriculture saying so far they are registering more farmers who want to venture into this type of farming.
“This project is really helping farmers here to be food secure looking at the weather conditions here which are associated with dry spells. We really believe that the coming in of this project will be able to make farmers to have enough food and improve their nutrition because legumes can also be used for food and on the other hand improve their economic wellbeing as they sell the produce,” said Gondwe.
According to ISFM Principal Investigator, Dr Vernom Kabambe, poor and low soil fertility are often cited as the main causes for low yield saying one of the reasons is that farmers fail to take a comprehensive approach to crop management, such as the adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management.
“A combination of improved varieties, appropriate fertilizer use, proper timing of planting, residue management and weeding can improve crop yields and make agriculture more robust to climate change,” he said.
The three year project has established grain legume based and Conservation Agriculture learning (LCs) as farmer training tools and also to provide a basis for determining the performance of technologies.
Written By: Patricia Nkhoma