Friday, July 4, 2008

Promotion of Irrigation farming to improve household food security

The 2007/2008 growing season has been another year of drought in most parts of the country. The season started with very heavy rains, that saw some parts of the country flooding and washing away some of the crops that were in the fields. This was immediately followed by a dry spell, at a time when most of the crops like maize had just started cobbing but had not yet reached maturity stage. As a result most of the staple crop dried up in the field such that the harvest for this year has been low, compared to last season.

To address this problem, the IHFS project is promoting winter cropping through irrigation for farmers who have access to water sources like rivers and dams. The project has distributed 50 treadle pumps to Village Support Groups (VSG). The treadle pumps are being used for both communal and individual gardens. Farmers have been trained in treadle pump use, soil and water conservation and irrigation farming. A recent monitoring trip to on of the project target areas in Lisungwi, Neneo District showed that farmers who are practicing irrigation farming have healthy crop and will have another round of harvest this year as a buffer against food shortages. The project intends to scale up irrigation farming and winter cropping but also include an element of agribusiness so that these farmers can generate income from the crop they produce, hence be able to access food through out the year.

Author: Thokozani Mwapasa

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