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Climate smart agriculture

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The New York Times of August 20 2016 had an interesting entry that captured the soul of climate change and food insecurity situation in the country. I went through the entry with keen interest.

The article, ‘Poverty, Drought and Felled Trees Imperil Malawi Water Supply’, was written by Norimitsu Onishi and this was the introduction:

Dzalanyama Forest Reserve, Malawi — Out of desperation, soldiers were dispatched to the national forest here last year to defend the capital, Lilongwe, less than 30 miles away. Their mission was not to save it from an invading force but to keep water flowing to its taps.

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For years, wood charcoal burners had been destroying this forest, the catchment basin for the Lilongwe River, the source of the capital’s water. Fewer trees mean the ground is less able to absorb water in the rainy season and gradually surrender it the rest of the year. With the supply reaching the capital dwindling and increasingly turbid, and with the El Niño drought spreading across Malawi and the rest of southern Africa, the capital was under imminent threat.

We have serious disaster looming and engulfing us. We will soon suffocate if we fail to take the necessary measures to save the country from drought and poverty. Further in the article, this paragraph resonated too strongly with the plight the country is in:

Few places on the continent have been hit as hard by human-led environmental degradation and climate change as Malawi, a poor though politically stable nation in south-eastern Africa. The effects of climate change, including shorter rainy seasons and the worst drought in decades, have pushed people into cities looking for jobs or into activities like charcoal burning. These changes have caused water shortages and power blackouts that have merely heightened the demand for ever more trees from the forest.

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Climate change has become a very important issue that needs to be addressed with utmost urgency. The country has many initiatives that raise awareness on the matter and give people an opportunity to learn about innovations in the agricultural and natural resources sector.

We should not leave it to government and major organisations only to mitigate the effects of climate change. As citizens, we should intimately acquaint ourselves with progressive agricultural methods and strategies that mitigate climate change.

A week or so from now there will have the National Agricultural Fair themed “Climate Smart Agriculture” at the Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre. This fair will give the agricultural sector in the country an opportunity to showcase their goods and services and support climate smart agriculture.

Opportunities like these need to be utilised to the maximum in every practical sense. When are we going to become smart? When are we going to adopt climate smart methods of farming to achieve the much needed food security?

I couple of times I have seen people engaged in irrigation farming even at a small scale when they have a water resource close to them or using water from a borehole. This is the kind of progressive action needed even at large scale. Times are gone when we relied on the rains to plant and nurture our crops.

Climate smart agriculture is an integrative approach to address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change with specific objectives in mind. It is an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural development under the new realities of climate change with a collective aim of achieving national food security and development goals.

Productivity, adaptation and mitigation are the pillars of climate smart agriculture. As a country, we need to enhance our agricultural productivity by adopting various modern and climate agriculture practices. Secondly, we need to adapt to changing times and climate and practise agriculture in ways that complement these changes. Lastly, we need to mitigate the effects of climate change on our agricultural sector to ensure that the country is not severely crippled food security- and economic-wise.

We need food to survive, literally. And in a country like Malawi, where agriculture is the backbone of the economy, we need this survival in many ways than one. We cannot afford to relax when it comes to this sector and we cannot afford to ignore climate smart agriculture in the plight that we are in. We need to aggressively and widely adopt this practice to move forward.

I rest my case.

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