Farmers in the country have been challenged to adopt agroforestry farming in a bid to arrest and reverse land degradation, and mitigate effects of climate change which are key challenges in agriculture production in the country.
Controller for Agriculture Services responsible for institutions in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Gray Nyandule Phiri said this on Monday in the area of Senior Chief Mpama in Chiradzulu where he presided over the launch of the country’s first Agroforestry month campaign.
Through the system, farmers are encouraged to integrate trees/shrubs with crops or animals on the same piece of land to improve crop and livestock production.
This year, the campaign runs from January 23 to February 23 under the theme ‘Agroforestry for improved food security and climate change adaptation’.
Said Phiri: “Agroforestry has proved to have reduced soil erosion thereby reversing land degradation. Planting trees such as faidherbia albida (Msangu) which adds nutrients to the soil also ensures maximum crop production hence food security.”
According to Phiri, the ministry plans to be planting trees in over 350 000 hectares of land each year during the campaign.
However, Phiri said implementation of agroforestry is facing challenges, including low adoption by farmers.
“It is, therefore, against this background that with support from our partners World Agroforestry Centre, European Union and World Vision, just to mention a few, we are launching this campaign as one of the strategies to increase awareness and adoption.
“We have, therefore, increased awareness on the importance of integrating different elements of agroforestry through the promotion of 4Fs (Fertiliser, Fuelwood, Fodder and Fruit trees), among farmers,” he said.
In his remarks Director of Land Resource Conservation John Mussa bemoaned continued wanton cutting down of trees by what he called selfish individuals, resulting in increased soil erosion and siltation in the rivers.
“We all know of various challenges faced in the country due to environmental degradation. I am glad chiefs have embraced this initiative. I am hopeful if we get the support that we need, things will turn around and we will revert to the good old days,” said Mussa.
Senior Chief Mpama commended local afforestation groups that have helped to restore vegetation cover in hills and mountains in his area.
He advised each of his subjects to plant three trees during the month, so as to have enough trees for “firewood, fruits for nutrients and as a source of income”.
During the ceremony, villagers and delegates, including officials from the ministry, District Commissioner (DC), District Agriculture Development Officers (Dado) and traditional leaders planted trees in some maize fields and bare grounds in Ulaya Village.
They also toured Chingozi Afforestation, which is championing agroforestry in the area.