Saturday, November 21, 2009

WFP urges adoption of conservation farming

WFP urges adoption of conservation farming
By Agness Changala
Fri 20 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT

WORLD Food Programme (WFP) country director Ricaldo Pablo has advised farmers to adopt conservation farming to improve production in view of the reduced inputs in the 2009/2010 farming season.

In an interview, Pablo observed that despite the reduced amount of farming inputs to farmers, fertiliser could not change the way the country produced crops or increase the average productivity per hectare if conservative ways of farming were not implemented.

“Fertiliser per se cannot change the way we produce or increase average productivity. The Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) at the moment is probably taking a very large amount of the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and as a result, not allowing for other critical areas of support to the farmers,” he said.

Pablo said the distribution of fertiliser should be targeted at small-scale farmers who he said did not have access to it.

“The target needs to actually be given particularly to the small-scale farmers where the fertiliser never reaches,” he said.

And Pablo said there was need for the government to look at the import and export capacities of agriculture as a way of improving the sector other than providing critical services to farmers.

He said although the government policies in terms of supporting the farmers were broad, fertiliser could not be taken out of context.

Pablo also called for improved agriculture market, access to farming inputs to small scale farmers and support in terms of policy.

He further said commodity exchange allowed for the prices to be set in a transparent manner where all players were working together to set a right price for the commodities.

Pablo said there was also need to re-look at the role of Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

“I think it’s important that the FRA maintains its support and response capacity by continuing with its role in pricing of all agriculture produce,” said Pablo.

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