By LAWRENCE KABUTU
A SENIOR Agricultural Office has called on stakeholders to seriously participate in the development of the National Crop Diversification Strategy to enhance the process of crop diversification in the agriculture sector.
Department of Agriculture Director Moses MWALE said the strategy is aligned to bridge the division caused by changing climate resulting in droughts and floods.
Mr. MWALE stated that the strategy is allied to the national development plans to diversify from mono-cropping by putting in place production of diverse range of agricultural commodities and products.
He said the diverse range of products in the agriculture sector to be implemented through crop diversification is aimed at supporting households’ income, food, and nutrition security in a changing climate.
Mr. MWALE was speaking in a speech ready on his behalf by Deputy Director in the Technical Services Branch Stanslous CHISAKUTA at Mana Nest Lodge in Choma during the Provincial Consultations on the Draft National Crop Diversification Strategy 2021 – 2025.
He noted that crop production has reduced by 30 per cent owing to climate variability adding that crop diversification is also key as pests such as fall army worms are reduced when it is implemented.
Mr. MWALE further called on stakeholders to the Provincial consultations on the draft National Crop Diversification that included the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, Hivos Southern Africa, the media and Ministry of agriculture officials to participate actively in considering the draft national crop diversification strategy.
And Hivos Southern Africa Head for Sustainable diets for all programme William CHILUFYA said his organisation is promoting foods that are diverse, health, cost effective, and nutritious.
Mr. CHILUFYA said Hivos Southern Africa embarked on the programme for Sustainable diets for all because of mono-diet due to monoculture of growing maize that most farmers have ventured in as compared to other crops.
He explained that Hivos under the Sustainable Diets for all Programme also looks at foods or crops that do not destroy the soil.
Mr. CHILUFYA told the participants that his organisation has done a study called true cost of Maize production looking at the actual cost of producing maize.
‘’From the study which factored environmental costs we realised that the actual cost of producing maize is 2.5 more. So if you are spending K1, 000 to grow half an acre it means the actual cost is K2, 500 the reason being that we factor in the environmental cost,’’ clarified Mr. CHILUFYA.
Mr. CHILUFYA said environmental cost involves how we plough, how we destroy the soil, how the fertilizer we put in the soil sometimes finds its self in the rivers and how the fish is killed.
He strongly emphasised to the participants as change agents to engage farmers to move away from dependence on Maize production and start growing other crops that will spread production and income risk over a wider range of crops.
Mr. CHILUFYA added that farmers are willing to grow various crops as long as they know that there is market, and have access to inputs.