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Protecting our fertile land

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We can probably agree to disagree majority of our arable land is in bad state. A large portion of it is in poor condition and no longer useful.

Land, however, is the most basic of all resources available for Malawi’s social and economic development, according to the country’s Land Policy of 2002. Land is not static; humans have the potential to change it. They have the ability to save or deplete resources.

The 2002 Land Policy’s aims include encouraging community engagement and public awareness at all levels in order to promote environmentally sustainable land use practices and good land stewardship.

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Agriculture is becoming more exposed to natural disasters, according to the policy. Furthermore, rapid population increase puts a strain on the environment, causing degradation.

In our presence, limited cultivable land is being swept away. The land resource is deteriorating and becoming increasingly scarce and we seem oblivious of the crisis.

The world is in favour of land preservation. This is why the Department of Land Management was established.

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Is it necessary for us to properly care for our land, particularly agricultural land? Why not, given the importance of land for agriculture in achieving food security and combating malnutrition?

Agriculture is given priority by the Malawi Government as stated in the preamble of the National Agricultural Investment Plan developed in 2018 for the period 2022- 23, because of its significant contribution to socioeconomic development and population livelihood.

It is time we put together concerted efforts to protect our agricultural land. I propose that we buy some time and go to our own communities, where we can see the sorry state of what were once fertile arable gardens.

Agriculture, which is the backbone of Malawi’s economy, cannot be discussed without addressing the question of land. As a result, if Malawi’s socio-economic progress and livelihood are to be safeguarded, land, particularly agricultural land, must be protected at all costs.

Conservatory measures are essential for reducing soil erosion and deteriorating fertility.

Agriculture is linked to land, which is crucial for developing food nutrition or achieving the ‘eat well to live well’ guidance, which is a Malawian guide to the prevention and management of non-communicable disease caused by diet and lifestyle, among other things.

Central to achieving all that is dependent on good management of agricultural land.

While land is not static because people have the potential to damage it, it is the responsibility of the Malawi Government to educate the public about the need to conserve our valuable land.

According to the National Statistical Office, 55 percent of smallholder farmers possessed less than one hectare of cultivable land in 2002, which was insufficient to provide the farmers’ basic food demands.

Against the backdrop of NSO’s study, a very tiny part of land is also prone to degradation, soil erosion and inadequate conservation.

In other words, due to poor conservation technologies and rapid population growth, the less than one hectare of land owned by 55 percent of smallholders could not be reduced and made less productive.

Agriculture in Malawi requires a planned strategy. The available cultivatable land must be safeguarded rather than exploited.

Global food security, climate change mitigation and natural resource protection are some of the important environmental goals that are currently garnering international attention.

It is impossible to overestimate the value of protecting precious land. To put it another way, it should be a legal need to protect agricultural land.

Agriculture is Malawi’s primary revenue source. It is a significant contributor to economic development and poverty reduction.

This is why further research into environment-friendly farming practices is essential. Farming operations will be required as long as humans exist.

It is worth noting that the K142 billion allocated to the Affordable Inputs Programme in the 2021-22 National Budget will be worthless if the cultivatable land is unsuitable for production.

The same budget, which appears to be quite enticing, allocates K284.4 billion to the agriculture sector in order to boost productivity, including employee pay and salaries, as well as the rehabilitation of strategic grain reserves.

When all is said and done, the most important point remains the need to conserve and manage land in order to retain productivity, which is something that the budget seeks to do.

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