BLANTYRE, Malawi - Climate change has been pointed out as one of the challenges affecting cotton production in the country. One of the farmers who grow cotton on a larger scale from Traditional Authority Chanthunya in Balaka, Dymex Funsani, told Malawi News Agency that the crop has now been heavily hit by the dry spell, affecting their investments in turn.
"I normally plan on how much I am going to invest into cotton each and every season from seed, pesticides, fertiliser as well as labour for people who weed the field as cotton needs frequent weeding," she explained. Funsani pointed out that, "Over the past five years, I have not been able to yield according to what I anticipated because of the change in rainfall patterns. As am talking to you, three weeks have passed without a drop of rain.
"If the trend continues, it will result in our cotton wilting which at the same time affects how much we harvest at the end," she observed.
Another farmer from Mitole Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Chikwawa, Asaf Bewu added that as much as cotton crop endures harsh weather conditions, the crop is heavily affected. "If you compare the perseverance of cotton and maize, cotton endures a lot than maize but still what we realise is slowly going down because of the change," he echoed.
Change in methods, hybrid seeds needed
Agriculture Extension District Officer for Balaka, Godfrey Magowera said they are currently teaching farmers to adopt other methods that maintain moisture in the soil. "Climate change is a big problem as it is affecting all angles of agriculture. So we are encouraging farmers to change methods of farming like vegetative cover.
"We are also encouraging farmers to plant trees in their respective areas because it is the only long-term solution to the issue of climate change. If there are trees, we will be able to reverse these effects," he said.
Project Officer for Cotton Platform at the Africa Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC), Isaac Tembo, said there is need to bring in resilient cotton crops like hybrid seeds that could be able to resist the effects of climate change. "The issue of climate change is indeed a big concern to the sector and we need to act fast by providing our farmers with resilient seeds that will be able to persevere the effects of climate change.
"We need to make our farmers resilient to mitigate any other challenges that come with climate change. There is a gap in our climate change framework such that our farmers are not resilient enough to withstand this," he explained.Read the original article on Malawi News Agency.