The just-revived National Agroforestry Research and Development Forum (Nardf) says proper implementation of agro-forestry will help reduce the dependency on organic fertiliser by farmers.
The Nardf was revived in Lilongwe last week and will take over the roles of the National Agro Forestry Committee which became defunct a couple of years ago.
Director of Land Resource Conservation in the Ministry of Agriculture, John Mussa, said it is important to revive the roles of National Agro Forestry Committee by forming a new body because it will be easy to coordinate issues of agro-forestry with farmers and lobby for funding.
“There are many players who are taking the message of agro-forestry to farmers and if not properly coordinated, farmers will be confused. We have non-governmental organisations and donor-funded projects,” he said.
Mussa said promoting agro-forestry is one way of stopping land degradation because usage of manure and nitrogen fixing plants makes the soil conserve moisture for a long time even when there is a partial drought.
“With the of formation Nardf, we will be able to lobby for funding and coordinate the relevant information that goes to farmers,” he said.
Deputy director for agricultural research services, Wilson Makumba, said proper usage and implementation of Agro-forestry issues and products will help farmers reduce fertiliser usage which could help government to save money on Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp).
“If properly implemented agro-forestry will help us to improve soil fertility while at the same time provides fodder for our animals. For example, if a farmer has got nitrogen fixing trees in his farm, it will help him reduce the amount of fertilisers to be applied in his garden,” he said.
Makumba said that continuous usage of nitrogen fixing plants will help farmers reduce, by almost 50 percent, the amount of fertiliser they apply in their fields.
One of the proponents of agro-forestry issues, Weston Mwase, said it is important to create a network of organisations to innovate and synchronise all agro-forestry issues to help the local farmer.
He said evergreen agriculture is a form of more intensive farming which integrates trees into crop and livestock production systems.
“Evergreen farming systems are double story systems that feature both perennial and annuals species which help to maintain a green cover on the land throughout the year,” said Mwase, who is also the coordinator of Building a Large Evergreen Agriculture Network in Southern Africa (Bleansa).