Some farmers in the country have turned to legume farming as an alternative to maize, which has been affected by natural calamities such as the fall armyworm and prolonged dry spell in most parts of the country.
During a field visit to Bolero in Rumphi District, farmers in separate interviews emphasised the need for crop diversification, especially in favour of drought resistant ones.
Some of the crops farmers are cultivating are maize, pigeon peas, soya beans, groundnuts, velvet beans and cow peas.
One of the farmers, Alice Luhanga, said, apart from common diseases that pose a threat to legume production, farmers find solace in the availability of chemicals such as Cypermethrin which, she said, is affordable.
“The outlook in maize fields does not inspire any hope at all. With legumes, we feel safe in the wake of climate change which has brought about dry spells. Legume farming favours us because it does not require a lot of chemicals and fertilisers,” Luhanga said.
However, we established that legume farming continues to face challenges, most of which hinge on traditional misconceptions.
For instance, some people in Rumphi District believe that anyone who cultivates ground beans is likely to experience the death of their first-born child.
But Robert Kafuwa of Kalolo Village said cooperative societies and other organisations have managed to debunk some of the myths.
“Some of the misconceptions emanate from the past and are responsible for the extinction of some varieties of crops, including food crops” Kafuwa said.
Meanwhile, Africa Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC), which has been working with farmers in Rumphi District, has expressed optimism that, through civic education, food diversification may work.
AICC Programmes Manager, Chrispin Namwera, cited farmers’ willingness to embrace legume farming.
“Legumes are resilient to prolonged dry spells and do not require the use of expensive fertilisers. Expensive fertilisers discourage most of our farmers from venturing into crop production,” Namwera said.
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