By Leonard Masauli – Mana
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale has described the catchment conservation management programme as pivotal to ensure that small-scale farmers in the country are taking part in environmental conservation in their areas.
The Minister made the remarks on the sidelines of a launch for National catchment conservation and management campaign in Traditional Authority Simulemba in Kasungu District.
The Minister said the programme is geared to assist farmers especially for small-scale farmers to look for the environment and protect the soils so that it gives back good returns in agricultural production.
“The whole programme is geared to assist small-scale farmers who have families to look after the environment because over the last couple of years we have seen land degradation which has ended up with loss of harvest across the country.
“It is all because we are not looking after the environment, we are cutting down trees, we are burning instead of mulching. So, we are encouraging farmers to look at what we can actually do to feed the soil so that brings back more returns,” said Kawale.
Kawale said the programme is going to be implemented across the country and the ministry is looking forward to implement the lessons that are given under the program.
He said during this year’s Affordable Input Programme, government has already finalised with bidding and evaluation processes and about 15 companies will be the ones to supply fertilize this year.
“So far, what has remained is a no objection from Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) and after that we will be signing contracts in a week or two, and by the end of this month we are going to have whole lot of fertilizer in this country and July and August we will just be planning for logistics,” he said.
He said this year the government has planned the AIP in four categories such as ones under social cash transfer such as the elderly and those with disabilities, those under Public Works Program, those on actual AIP programme and last group will be those under Agriculture Commercialization.
The Minister said those under Agriculture Commercialization, is one big side of investment where government has allocated over K265 billion towards the programme in which the beneficiaries would be those who take farming as business and venture into big agricultural mechanization, such crop production and livestock farming among others.
Commenting on the programme, Member of Parliament for Kasungu North-North East, Paul Nkhoma said most environment in the area is depleted and he is certain that through the catchment conservation management program the soils will be replenished.
He said through the extension workers, the people in the communities have adopted the program and have own forests in which they are able to harvest honey, fruits and in the same way protecting the soils for betterment of agricultural production.