FARMERS in Tsholotsho district, Matabeleland North, have been urged to plant drought-resistant crops such as sorghum and millet as a mitigatory measure against climate change which has seen the area receiving erratic rainfall.
BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
Most parts of Matabeleland have been hard hit by drought resulting in successive crop failures over the years.
The call was made by the Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP) crops and livestock specialist Loryne Ndlovu during a tour of the district on Tuesday. Ndlovu urged Tsholotsho farmers to plant drought-tolerant crops to ensure food security.
“As an organisation we are educating farmers to grow drought (tolerant) crops such as sorghum and millet as they can sustain the conditions of the area,” Ndlovu said.
“Benefits of planting drought (tolerant) crops include producing larger crop yields. This is because these crops are able to grow in periods when the rains fail.”
Ndlovu said lack of knowledge was also a factor affecting farmers because some people are not aware of what types of crops to grow in their area, thereby yielding poor results.
“The other challenge is the mindset change. Some of the farmers still want to use seed from silos, but gradually people are changing and as for this farming season people were demanding improved inputs which make their crops better,” Ndlovu said.
“We focus mainly on resilience because the area in which we are working has (little) rainfall. So that is why we emphasise on conservation agriculture through methods such as ripper tines as we try to counter the problems of climate change.
“We have tried encouraging farmers to plant short season varieties so that they can survive even during a drought.”
Ndlovu said it was important for farmers to work together, bring ideas and resources rather than to seek external help. She said her organisation was working with 58 000 farmers in the district.
“Farmers are having challenges accessing improved inputs mainly because they will be travelling to Bulawayo which becomes more expensive and affects their production,” Ndlovu said.
Ndlovu said ORAP has an irrigation scheme where farmers have vegetable gardens, to augment incomes.