Private sector amplifies calls for farmers to embrace CA

Ashton Mutyavaviri

PRIVATE sector players have added their voice to Government’s growing calls for farmers to adopt conservation agriculture (CA) practices as part of efforts to lessen the impact of the predicted El Nino phenomenon whose occurrence in known to cause droughts that destroy crops resulting in food insecurity.

An agronomist with local seed producer, Agriseeds, Mr Social Shava yesterday urged farmers to adopt CA methods that will enable them to salvage yields even in the event of a drought and remain food secure.

“The CA methods that promote soil health, water conservation and crop diversification are gaining traction across the country, as farmers recognise their potential to increase yields and mitigate the effects of erratic weather patterns,” Mr Shava said.

This is a farming system that can prevent losses of arable land while regenerating degraded lands. It promotes maintenance of a permanent soil cover, minimum soil disturbance and diversification of plant species. It enhances biodiversity and natural biological processes above and below the ground surface, which contribute to increased water and nutrient use efficiency and to improved and sustained crop production, Mr Shava explained.

Mr Shava said farmers must adopt three core principles of CA, which are minimising soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation or diversification.

He urged farmers to adopt the techniques to cope better with rainfall variability and minimise crop losses during drought periods.

“By minimising soil disturbance usually through reduced tillage or no-till practices, the Pfumvudza/Intwasa concept in this instance, soil structure is preserved, which reduces erosion and improves water infiltration,” he added.

Mr Shava added that the use of permanent soil cover such as mulching or cover crops, helped to conserve moisture, reduce weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. This practice is particularly beneficial during dry conditions, as it helps retain moisture in the soil for longer periods, enabling crops to better withstand prolonged dry spells.

Added Mr Shava: “Farmers must do crop rotation or diversification – a key component of CA. By alternating the types of crops grown in a particular area, farmers can improve soil fertility, reduce pest and disease pressures, and enhance overall resilience. This not only helps in mitigating the effects of rainfall shortages but also contributes to long-term sustainable land management.”

Mr Shava said farmers must diversify their crops, as crop diversification systems provide a buffer against climate variability, as different crops have varying tolerances to drought or excessive rainfall.

He went further to explain that CA had potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, a development that further contributes to the country’s commitment to addressing climate change, hence the need for farmers to adopt it.

To roll out CA methods effectively, farmers must visit their local extension services to get trained on techniques and use of improved seed varieties and conservation equipment in anticipation of El Nino.

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