Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (Aret) has advised tobacco growers in Machinga District to grow other crops apart from tobacco to diversify their income in the wake of climate change.
Speaking on Tuesday at Msusa Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Liwonde in Machinga, Aret chairperson Reuben Maigwa said tobacco growers should grow crops such as soya, groundnuts, sunflower and pigeon peas if they are to mitigate the effects of climatic shocks.
Aret held a field day to provide farmers an opportunity to learn from each other as well as disseminate information on new tobacco varieties.
“In light of climatic stresses and declining soil fertility, growing a single crop is risky since a farmer can lose an entire harvest to drought, diseases and pests. There is need to explore other crops to mitigate the threats,” he said.
Maigwa commended the farmers for producing quality tobacco, advising them to continue doing a good job.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) president Abel Banda backed the calls for diversification, adding that the current climatic conditions require farmers to adopt innovative farming methods to withstand climate shocks.
He encouraged Aret to continue holding field days to teach farmers different farming technologies to help them maximise their farming, and at the same time, help the country to earn more foreign exchange.
During the field day, many farmers cried foul that failure to get loans, shortage of agriculture extension workers and the high cost of pesticides, fertilisers and other farming equipment are affecting tobacco production. n