Farmers in Nkhotakota have expressed joy at the introduction of a leguminous crop, quinoa, which is said to be highly nutritious.
Based on results from adaptation and evaluation trials at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), Total Land Care Malawi (TLC) and the university included quinoa for on-farm evaluation in its project sites in Dowa, Ntchisi, Salima and Nkhotakota districts.
These represent three ecological areas of warm (lakeshore), mid-altitude (Mwansambo Area) and high-altitude (cool area of Dowa and Ntchisi) under a five-year Management for Adaptation to Climate Change (Macc) II project.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, lead farmer Henry Kazembe of Nkhunga Extension Planning Area (EPA) said quinoa has proven to be an effective crop in addressing malnutrition as it is highly nutritious.
He said farmers involved in trials have registered a decrease in malnutrition and food shortages since the crop is drought-resistant and does not need fertiliser to grow.
Said Kazembe: “We have grown quinoa for three consecutive years on trial basis. But already, the crop has helped us address problems of malnutrition in our families.”
He encouraged farmers nationwide to embrace it.
TLC field coordinator Clapperton Chirwa said quinoa aims to contribute to increasing access to high nutritive food products in the Macc II project impact areas.
He said the crop, chenopodium quinoa L, has potential to contribute to Malawi and Africa’s food security as it is among food diversification crops under smart agriculture in adaptation to climate change impact.
“So far, at least nine varieties have been evaluated for on-farm and under irrigated conditions. We believe that inclusion of the highly nutritious grain to Malawian diets and the children diets can reduce malnutrition,” he said.
Information from TLC indicates that 13 quinoa varieties were introduced in Malawi in 2012 through collaborative research work of Luanar and Washington State University for adaptation studies for Malawi conditions.