Hold on, wait for good rains to plant. This is the message from agricultural experts to farmers in some Southern Region districts that have received rains which indigenous knowledge assesses as fit for planting.
In separate interviews yesterday, district agricultural development officers (Dados) in Blantyre, Machinga, Chikwawa and Chiradzulu said the farmers should continue with their land preparations.
Machinga Dado Sosten Zulu said the district has not received adequate rainfall.
He said: “For now, they [farmers] cannot start planting because in Machinga the rains have not been adequate enough. They need to continue with land preparation.”
On her part, Blantyre Dado Linda Mphande said there were variations in terms of distribution or spread of rainfall in the district, but there is need for farmers to prioritise land preparation.
“There are some variations within the district so the advice would be different. Some areas have received a lot of rainfall while in some areas, the soil is still dry so they [farmers] cannot plant. They should wait for more rains,” she said.
In Chiradzulu, about 10 percent of the farmers have started planting, according to Dado Ezra Mbendera who said: “Only a few areas have received the rains such as in Thumbwe where even some farmers have planted.
“I was there today [yesterday] and have seen that less farmers have done so. However, they still need to wait for good rains.”
Chikwawa Dado James Chikoya said farmers in the district should wait for rains as no area within the Lower Shire Valley district has received much rain.
He cautioned that hasty planting could put the farmers at a disadvantage.
Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services director Jolam Nkhokwe confirmed that the districts have received rains that vary from area to area.
He said: “Some areas have been receiving rains for two days, but then for now we cannot say that it is adequate or not and we will also wait for the district agricultural advisers to determine on the part of planting.”
Meanwhile, distribution of Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) coupons is still in progress after the launch of the exercise on October 15 in Phalombe.
There are 900 000 farmers targeted to benefit from the exercise that enables them to buy fertiliser and hybrid seeds at subsidised prices.