Zambezi District scaling up nutrition (SUN) center of excellence agriculture officer, Esther Phiri has recommended the traditional way of farming mushrooms as the best and easiest for farmers to venture into.
Speaking when a team of provincial nutrition coordinating committee went to check on what the center is doing in Zambezi yesterday, Ms. Phiri said the team has easily maintained the mushrooms planted in a grass thatched house than those in the modern building.
“It is easy to maintain the cool temperature that the mushrooms need in order for them to grow in the traditional house than the modern house,” she said.
Ms. Phiri further stated that they have been able to produce 5 kilograms since they started farming two months ago and have sold it at K400.
And North Western Province SUN Coordinator, Rodgen Loongo commended the center for venturing into mushroom farming as it will go a long way in fighting malnutrition.
Mr. Loongo said such ventures are what the project is promoting so as to ensure households have enough food that will promote good nutrition at household level.
He however, urged the farmers at the center to ensure that beneficiaries are quickly trained in mushroom farming so that they start producing their own mushrooms for consumption and sale the extra.
“It is important that they are particularly trained in the traditional way of mushroom farming because they can easily relate to it,” Mr. Loongo said.
He said he was happy that Zambezi was the first district to start mushroom production in the province under the project.
Meanwhile, Farmers in Petauke District have been advised to adapt to farming techniques that respond to the current unfavourable trends in weather patterns resulting from climate change.
Acting Petauke Senior Agriculture Officer Ernest Mwale also says soils in the district have depleted, as such farmers need to embrace smart agricultural practices.
He says increasing the production of legumes being incorporated in the production of cereals helps rejuvenate soil fertility.
Mr Mwale was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a climate smart maize variety, locally termed as “Paya Njala” by Zamseed in Chieftainess Mwanjabantu’s areas in Petauke district.
He said crop diversification is another way of improving soil nutrients, other than using legumes to rejuvenate the quality of the soil.
“The district has been experiencing poor distribution of rainfall, late onset of rainfall, and less rainfall. It is moving from agro-ecological region two in Zambia but slowly moving to region one,” he said.
Mr Mwale observed that this calls for adaptation, to move with the latest trends.
He further commended Zamseed for the introduction of ultra-early maturing variety on the market, especially that it comes with a pack of beans seed.
“Most soils in Petauke are depleted in terms of nutrients, the rains are not coming as they used to, so this seed responds to the needs of the farmers in the wake of climate change,” he added.
Meanwhile, Zamseed Business Development Manager, Nokuthula Ndhlovu emphasised the need for farmers to embrace technologies in the agriculture sector.
She said that it is only through such adaptation that challenges that are climate induced will be addressed.
Ms Ndhlovu said Zamseed will continue working with farmers to ensure hunger is eradicated, hence the introduction of the ZMS301 ultra early maturing variety that also promotes crop diversification.
“The ZMS301 bag contains a pack of beans seed. As you plant maize, plant the beans too. That way we will address the issue of hunger in communities. I also urge you to ensure that you plant the ZMS301 early for you to reap the full benefits,” Ms Ndhlovu advised.
And farmers in the area have welcomed the introduction of the ZMS301 variety by Zamseed
Florence Sakala said she is optimistic that yields will improve because the seed matures early, countering effects of climate change like lessened rainfall.
She said her yields had reduced over the years from the over 200 bags she used to harvest.
“I used to harvest about 200 50kg bags of maize but that is not the case anymore, I harvest much less. But I’m hoping this variety gets me to where I was and ends hunger in my household,” she hoped.