Farmers in drought prone areas have been urged to take up conservation farming as it is more likely to yield better harvests than conventional farming.
Farmers who used this method as part of a pilot project in Umzingwane district say they realized adequate yields while colleagues who resisted change have little to talk about in terms of yields this year.
Speaking at a field visit in Nswazi, Umzingwane district on Thursday, where the agricultural extension department is running a pilot project to promote conservation farming, Agritex officer Samuel Moyo said farmers need to explore new farming ways to preserve moisture.
Conservation farming is any system or practice which aims to conserve soil and water by using surface cover or mulch to minimize runoff and erosion and improve the conditions for plant growth.
It involves planting crops directly into the land which is protected by mulch using minimum or no-tillage techniques.
Albert Maphosa’s farm falls under the pilot project. He says although the method is labor-intensive, it is worth it as other farmers in the area using old methods harvested nothing this season.
Speaking during the field visit, farming expert and consultant, David Stewart, said conservation farming has been tried and proven to work in other drought prone areas in the region.
The field visit was organized for journalists and local farmers by agricultural extension officers running the pilot project.
In the Gandangula area of Lupane district, a local farmer who engaged in conservation farming this year says he expects to get more than 20 ninety-kilogram bags of maize from his small piece of land.
Lameck Mkhwebu says the piece of land normally produces less than five bags of maize a year when he is using unscientific traditional methods of farming.
He says agricultural extension workers organized a crop field day at his homestead Saturday where they awarded him a farming certificate and also gave him a wheel barrow and maize seed for engaging in conservation farming.
Mkhwebu’s daughter, Patience Mkhwebu, says his father wants to sell his surplus harvest to local people whose crops were destroyed by armyworms in January and February this year.