The crop forecast survey released last week by Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda showed that Zambia will record a significantly reduction in the maize production. The country maize forecast production has reduced by 26.86%.The reduction is in spite of the 5.3 percent increase in hectares of maize planted in the 2014-2015 farming season compared to that of 2013-2014 and the increase in fertilizer usage and high breed maize seed.Mr Lubinda has attributed the reduction to poor rainfall. He said the late onset of the rainy season and prolonged dry spells in some maize producing areas affected yields.
However Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has urged government to improve on plans and policies to boost the agriculture sector.JCTR Director Father Leonard Chiti said that while Zambia has the potential to diversify in crop production, lack of good plans and policies in the agriculture sector has hindered many farmers from doing so.
He said there is need for government not to give excuses such as low rainfall patterns as a hindrance to poor maize production.Father Chiti stressed that developing the irrigation sector is key to moving the agriculture sector to another level.Father Chiti said that crop diversification is key for the country to reduce the high levels of poverty.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisatiomn FAO irrigated agriculture has driven much of the increase in global food production over recent decades.The highest yields obtained from irrigation are more than double the highest yields from rainfed agriculture – even low-input irrigation is more productive than high-input rainfed farming.
Perhaps it’s time for the government to invest in Drip Irrigation
Drip Irrigation, is an Israeli invention, that allows dry land to produce crops to feed a hungry world.
In the 1930s, a water engineer by the name of Simcha Blass was visiting a friend in the desert when he noticed a line of trees with one member that was noticeable taller and more robust looking than the others. He did a little digging, literally, and noticed that a household water line running along the tree line had spring a small leak in the area of that one tree and as feeding it with a steady drip drip drip of water. The wet spot on the surface didn’t seem like much, but down below was a large onion-shaped area of juicy soil.The idea of drip irrigation was born.
Mr. Blass partnered with Kibbutz Hatzerim in the Negev desert to develop entire drip irrigation systems. He tinkered with variations on the idea, but when plastics became widely available in the 1960s, he finally had the ability to put drops of water precisely where he wanted, when he wanted; Mr. Blass and the kibbutz founded Netafim.
Since then, Netafim has sold its systems in more than 100 countries worldwide. And, according to Mr. Barak, the more we ask of our planet’s limited water supply, the more Netafim’s systems will benefit the world.
“Water has been declared to be a basic human right,” he says, “but we squander it with wasteful irrigation. Drip irrigation provides the ability to make water work harder and more productively than its ever done in the past.”
Mr. Barak makes the point that if 15% of farms using conventional irrigation switched to drip irrigation, the supply of water available for domestic use would double.
Mr. Barak explains, “In the next 100 years we are going to have to produce more crops than we ever have, with far less environmental damage than we’re doing now.”
Some are well on the way to achieving that goal. About 75 percent of Israeli farming is done with drip irrigation, with practically no flood irrigation at all. Drip irrigation accounts for about half of irrigation in California; South Africa is also a big user.
But other areas of the world have yet to make the shift – and food is only one of the reasons why it’s important for them to do so. Because when you really dig in to the nuances of drip irrigation, you start to see how widespread its ramifications are.
For example, by using water more efficiently, drip irrigation means you use less fertilizer. Fertilizer production is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.