The Department of Crop Production in partnership with a Zambian seed company have introduced a new method of ploughing to farmers in theChobe enclave. The method mitigates against climate change in order to improve crop production in the area.
“We have realised that the Chobe enclave, which used to produce more crops than any other region in the area has shown a decrease in the amount of crops produced,” said Chobe District crop production officer, Mr Zacharia Mmapete during a recent workshop in Kasane.
Mr Mmapete said after coming together as crop production officers to find a way to help farmers produce more, they invited technicians fromZambia to come and introduce conservation agriculture. He said they also took some local farmers to Zambia for benchmarking with farmers facing similar challenges.
Some of the challenges, according to the crop production scientist, include poor soils which are acidic, highly weathered and of low fertility, unpredictable rainfall as well as natural and human induced problems. Mr Mmapetla said conservation agriculture entails ploughing whereby reeds are laid under the soil and improved seeds that germinate fast sown between them. The reeds are used as manure after they decompose.
“Holes are dug in the soil using a hoe where the seeds are put and covered with a layer of soil,” seed company specialist from Zambia, MrStephen Muliokela explained.
Mr Muliokela explained that in order for Chobe enclave farmers to do well they need to have a positive attitude towards ploughing and should not rely on the government to provide them with everything they need.
He said they should work together as farmers to tackle the challenges they were facing. “If farmers stand up for themselves and cooperate with one another, issues of wildlife destroying crops in their fields could be easily solved,” he stressed.
Mr Mmapetla noted that in Zambia, after ploughing, farmers divide themselves into groups and take turns in watching out for wild animals and birds that destroy their crops. He said they also use chillie to chase away elephants.
One of the farmers from Mabele, who was among those who went toZambia, Ms Selina Sibanda said she felt the need to go back to the old ways of ploughing that Zambian farmers use; that of ploughing throughout the year without a fallow period.
“The other thing is that farmers in Zambia use compost manure in their crops while we in Chobe use artificial fertilisers which at times burn our crops,” she stressed.
Ms Sibanda stressed that the government helped them a lot with ploughing materials which makes them lazy to do things for themselves as there will be everything at their disposal. Another farmer, who also went to Zambia, Mr Richwell Jwanga, said they learnt a lot from Zambian farmers and hoped to exercise the knowledge to better their crop yields.