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Sting of climate change— P21 Dairy farming at crossroadsP24

Climate

change and livestock interface

P2

2 Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 aGriculture: aMiD cliMate cHaNGe Hot Institutions the

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aGriculture: aMiD cliMate cHaNGe

aGriculture: aMiD cliMate cHaNGe
tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 aGriculture: aMiD cliMate cHaNGe Hot Institutions the following are organisations and
tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 aGriculture: aMiD cliMate cHaNGe Hot Institutions the following are organisations and

Hot Institutions

the following are organisations and institutions that are promoting the agriculture sector in Malawi:

1. ACE

2. ActionAid

3. Constantine

4. Development Fund of Norway

5. Farm Radio

6. Foundation for

Irrigation and

Sustainable

Development

7. Lifuwu Rice

8. Malawi

Mangoes

9. Peacock Seed

10.Promat

11.Seedco

12.Sunseed Oil

Limited

13.Tithokoze

Farm

14.Universal

Trading

Oil Limited 13.Tithokoze Farm 14.Universal Trading Special essay by Dr andy cl Safalaoh, luanar associate

Special essay by Dr andy cl Safalaoh, luanar associate professor in animal Science

PHOTOGRAPH: NATION
PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

Livestock contributes significantly to livelihoods of rural communities

Climate change, livestock interface

L ivestock, including poultry, is widely recognised as

an important

livelihood asset in poor countries such as Malawi. Due to their poor resource base and wider pervasive poverty that characterise the context in which they are embedded, the poor are particularly vulnerable to many disasters including climate change-induced disasters such as prolonged droughts and floods. Considering and recognising how recent trends of climate change- induced disasters have negatively affected livelihoods of the poor in

Malawi, it is fundamental

that interventions be put in place to mitigate any related negative consequences that may arise with respect to smallholder agriculture, including livestock. This is particularly important considering that livestock is an important asset that significantly contributes to livelihoods of the rural poor in several ways. Briefly, livestock is a source of animal proteins including milk, meat, eggs, blood (contributing to food and animal security and dietary diversity, hence, ceteris paribus improved health), manure (contributing to natural

capital through soil improvement), cultural and social uses such as lobola and rituals (social capital), a moving bank, insurance and source of much-\needed income through sale of livestock, hiring of draught animals as transport or field work such as ploughing. The income is also an important multi-faceted livelihood outcome which can also be ‘converted’ to other livelihood capitals such as use of cash to pay school fees and associated accessories and pay health-related expenses (hence, contributing to human capital), cash for lobola and social activities and

rituals (social capital) and purchase of household needs, including furniture (hence, contributing to physical assets). Recognising such enormous importance

and role that livestock plays, there is need to strategically plan how to manage and mitigate the effects of climate

plan how to manage and mitigate the effects of climate PAGE 3 FAST FACTS • Globally,

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FAST FACTS

Globally, according to the most recent intergovernmental panel on climate change (ipcc) report, GHGs emissions from agriculture represent about 10 to 12 percent of the total anthropogenic GHGs emissions.

a report by the united Nations Development programme (uNDp) highlights that global warming is projected to increase temperature by 2 to 3ºc by 2050, with a decline in rainfall and water availability.

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aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe

Special eSSaY

amid climate cHaNGe S p e c i a l e S S a Y PAGE

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change-induced weather hazards such as drought and floods. The aim should be to devise interventions that can be used to provide assistance that saves livestock and provide room for rebuilding the livestock base that may be lost during prolonged droughts and floods. Negative effects of drought and floods Loss of animals: While drought and dry spells are more common than floods, recent evidence shows that floods can be as devastating. Recently, an initial assessment in Nsanje indicated that an estimated 91 000 animals including 5 000 cattle and 38 000 goats and pigs have succumbed to the floods. Meanwhile, some animals are reportedly displaced, stranded and marooned in islands surrounded by flood waters courtesy of the deadly Bansi and Chedza Tropical Cyclones (see http://www.ifaw. org/international/

node/102888).

This is illustrative that poor smallholder livestock keepers in Malawi are very vulnerable to weather and climate change-induced weather hazards such as floods. Apart from loss due to floods, animals also starve to death due to lack of food in times of prolonged droughts. Loss of feed resource base:

Floods and droughts also reduce access to feed and fresh water. Floods sweep away trees and shrubs and grass (pasture) which can sometimes be covered in mud making the fodder unavailable to animals. The situation is aggravated during droughts and continued dry spells where all the pasture and shrubs tend to dry up and are easily destroyed by uncontrolled bushfires. Shortages of feed force

Face-to-face: Livestock production, climate change

PHOTOGRAPH: NATION
PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

animals to walk long distances in search of food and water as most water poins completely dry up. Unfortunately, this depletes the already low energy body reserves. Degradation of pastures in periods of drought is another major problem that lead to complete loss of productive pasture species and desperate consumption of toxic plants by animals. In addition, this can also lead to soil degradation. At a commercial level, feed becomes scarce and prices go up.

F

rom

welfare perspective, lack of access to feed

the animal

and water infringes upon the freedom of animals from hunger and thirst. Due to lack of access to fresh water and feed, animals easily succumb to disease (eating contaminated soil, toxic plants, drink water from dirty sources, operate in muddy environments) leading to poor body condition scores which negatively affect productivity through reduced growth and reproduction. Reduced body condition entails loss of livestock market value to the chagrin of the poor smallholder livestock producer. Freedom from comfort:

During droughts,

Draught animals provide cheap transport among farming households

temperatures are always high leading to heat stress which negatively affects animal production. Under the extensive livestock system that prevails in Malawi, the dry spells also lead to loss of shelter as most trees dry up, thereby denying animals their only reliable source of shade. Climate change- induced drought and associated dry spells, therefore, deprive animals of their freedom from discomfort and distress. Increased disease incidences: Due to poor body condition scores of animals caused by lack of adequate feed, animals become susceptible to many diseases further

jeopardising their chances of survival. This is exacerbated by the fact that some humans who provide technical support services are displaced and that some key infrastructure may be lost. Solutions: So what can be done? Proactive policy: For drought-declared districts or zones where farmers are too impecunious and resource-poor to cope with the effects of prolonged drought and severe livestock- threatening floods, Malawi should consider formulating policies and establishing institutions that proactively promote and protect livestock as

an important productive asset and recognise livestock production as a crucial livelihood strategy. Policy options should be considered with respect to provision of extension packages for management of livestock under drought and floods (e.g. policies and mechanisms on adoption of feed preservation technologies such as hay and silage as feed reserve for use during lean periods); management of communal grazing areas and establishment of Livestock Drought Recovery Assistance

lean periods); management of communal grazing areas and establishment of Livestock Drought Recovery Assistance PAGE 4

PAGE 4

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Special eSSaY

27 2015 aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe Special eSSaY PAGE 3 Schemes (Lidras); probably managed by the

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Schemes (Lidras); probably managed by the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Production. Aspects to be covered under Lidras could include, but not limited to rehabilitation of degraded communal grazing areas and rangelands as way of improving pasture availability; provision of emergency veterinary support and services; establishment of livestock survival feeding programmes through supply and distribution of emergency feed including fodder and feed supplements (at least to meet minimum animal maintenance requirements, especially for sick, pregnant and young animals); movement of animals to other areas of the country where feed is sufficient during prolonged droughts; provision of water by establishing emergency livestock wateringpoints;provision of animal shelters to reduce effects of heat stress and for use during emergency livestock feeding programmes and livestock relief restocking schemes as a livestock assets rebuilding effort. As a blessing in disguise, mechanisms for capturing flood waters for use by livestock farmers such as construction of dams should also be considered. When undertaking these interventions, Lidras could incorporate and leverage efforts by partners such as local NGOs promoting l i v e s t o c k - o r i e n t e d livelihood interventions and international bodies such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare [(Ifaw) as already demonstrated in Nsanje] and the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (Spana). Apart from these policy-related options, other pragmatic decisions and management strategies should also be

Cushioning effects of climate change

PHOTOGRAPH: NATION
PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

considered. These include culling or destocking through selling of animals, especially if farmers are unable to maintain a reasonable condition score of the animals. This implies that drought forecasting and early warning systems by actors such as the Department of Climate Change and

Dams provide drinking water to farm animals during dry seasons

Meteorological Services and monitoring the condition score of livestock are crucial. In addition, humane killing of animals should also be considered where chances of survival of affected livestock are limited. From the animal welfare perspective, it should be considered an offence to let animals

suffer to the extent that they cannot eat or drink and deliberately left to starve to death. This calls for legislation on animal welfare in Malawi. Overall, there is need for Malawi to pursue a trajectory that integrates bothproactiveapproaches (advance planning and livestock-related emergency preparedness)

and reactive approaches (rapid response to ensure that remaining animals survive). Informed by the a f o r e m e n t i o n e d perspectives, mitigation of effects of climate change-induced drought and floods in Malawi require a holistic approach integrating both short- term and long-term policy

changes (or new policy formulations) in a bid to reduce vulnerability of poor smallholder livestock producers to droughts and floods.c

also

Leadership in Environment and Development (Lead) fellow and Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Scholar

Safalaoh

is

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Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 7 aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe advertorial C limate change
aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe

aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe

advertorial

C limate change continues

to threaten food security

andeconomicwell-being

of the country as weather becomes more unpredictable. For an economy which relies on agriculture such as Malawi’s, the impact of climate change is enormous due to its overreliance on rain-fed agriculture. Over the past few years, rains have become so unpredictable in terms of both patterns and intensity. To make matters worse, the majority of the smallholder farmers who contribute to over 70 percent of the national production do not have the capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change. They have limited access to climate resilient varieties, technical support and climate adaptable technologies. Eventually, the synergy of climate change, poor market systems and low prices for agricultural commodities sting the farmers hard. Amid such a situation, there is a new dawn of hope for oil seeds farmers. Sunseed Oil Limited has made headway in pursuing cost-options to help balance the scale of maintaining food security and sustainable economic development in context of climate change.

Sunseed boosts economy as it offers hope to seed farmers

The company has established the first ever out-grower scheme in the oil seeds sector for commercial production of various legumes such as soya beans and sunflower. Sunseed is a private company which processes cooking oil from locally grown oil seeds such as soy beans and sunflower. It also intends to include other potential oil seeds in the near future, especially groundnuts and cotton seeds. In 2014, Sunseed started a farmer engagement department that works with farmers across the country. The state-of-the-art company has capacity to crush 180 000 metric tons of oil seeds in a year. Sunseed wants to source 50 percent of its raw materials locally in an effort to improve the economic well-being farmers at the same time ensure that

the country is self-sufficient in as far as cooking oil is concerned. Through the out-grower scheme, Sunseed Oil Limited engages cooperatives, farmer clubs and other farmer organisations in contract farming as growers. The system also aims to promote and enhance production of oil seed by ensuring farmers of a ready market. For a long time, local farmers cited lack of markets as a major challenge and a disincentive for them to continue producing.

I n this arrangement, farmers

are guaranteed a stable

market for their produce

even before cultivation starts. To ensure maximum production, Sunseed provides improved farm inputs such as certified seed to farmers. Sunseedhasalsoestablished

an extension department to provide technical support and ensure that farmers adopt new farming and climate adaptation practices. The company’s initiatives have received an overwhelming response from local farmers, resulting in exponential increase in land allocated to oil seeds production. Soya beans and sunflower seeds are major rawmaterials which Sunseed uses to produce cooking oil. Sunseed uses 500 metric tons of grain in a day to produce cooking oil. There three main stages in cooking oil manufacturing though the processes for soya differs a bit form that of sunflower. Soya moves from storage to cleaning before the preparatory stage where the seeds are crushed and flaked to reduce the surface area for oil extraction.

For sunflower, decortication is done before the preparatory stage where mechanical oil extraction is done after flaking. This is because sunflower has a high oil content which can be partly extracted through mechanical pressing unlike soya. From the preparatory, seeds go to solvent extraction plant where a solvent is passed through the crushed seeds to absorb almost all the crude oil which is then stored in crude oil tanks ready for refining. Refining is the last major step and has three processes which aims to remove the deep colour, the odour and maintain the right viscosity of the oil. Thereafter, the oil is fortified with vitamins A and D as per requirements of the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) and other

international standardisation bodies before it is packed in readiness for the market. Sunseed Oil Limited produces three brands of cooking oil: MULAWE and LAWANI from soya beans and SUNGOLD from sunflower. All these brands are good for health living as they do not contain cholesterol and trans-fatty acids which are among the major health concerns. The products come in different sizes ranging from sachets to five litre bottles to make them affordable for a spectrum of consumers. The products are distributed across the country through numerous outlets such as super markets, wholesalers, small and large shops just to mention a few. The cooking oils are suitable for salads, frying and baking, among other uses. c

and large shops just to mention a few. The cooking oils are suitable for salads, frying
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auGuSt 27 2015 Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 13 aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe FeatuRe

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FeatuRe

Enhanced soil management: Solution to soil-depleting floods

IRON MSISKA

News aNalyst

G overnment says it will boost management of the country’s forests

as a means of taming flooding that washes away top soils, hampering agricultural productivity every year. TheCivilSocietyAgriculture Network (CisaNet)—a policy advocacy organisation working on agriculture and food security policy issues that affect smallholder farmers and their livelihoods—says much of the country’s yearly flooding is a result of loss of vegetative cover mainly in upland areas. And the worst effect of the flooding manifested itself in January. Up to 1.15 million people in 15 of the country’s 28 districts were affected, 336 000 were reported displaced and 276 missing or dead. President Peter Mutharika declared a state of national disaster and later said $81 million was needed to provide food, shelter and other aid to flood victims. CisaNet executive director, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, says it is estimated that in some parts of the country, up to 50 tonnes of top soil is lost per hectare every year as a result of such flooding. He says this grossly affects agricultural productivity because most crops rely on top soil for growth. Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza says a number of efforts designed to tame soil depletion have failed because of inadequate effort towards forest management. “Every year, government has been spearheading tree planting exercises of up to 60 million trees. But management of the trees we plant and the already existing ones has been a problem,” he says. “The main problem is lack of adequate funding towards such endeavours.

problem is lack of adequate funding towards such endeavours. Because of lack of funding, our forest

Because of lack of funding, our forest protection officers cannot effectively cover all the forests that need protection. We, therefore, want to increase funding towards forest management. “We also intend to take advantage of the Shire River

Basin Management Programme (SRBMP) to enhance forest management. This is a comprehensive programme that looks at a number of components, including environment management.” The SRBMP is a 15-year World Bank funded programme

generate

sustainable social, economic and environmental benefits by effectively and collaboratively planning, developing and managing the Shire River Basin’s resources. Among others, it looks at investments in water

that

seeks

to

infrastructure and systems operations; laying the foundation for more integrated investment planning and for modernised system operations for the basin; and addressing the significant socio-economic, demographic and biophysical challenges which include

Rich fertile top soils are lost through flooding

increasing population pressure, food security and poverty leading to environmental degradation. Chiyembekeza says his ministry wants to set aside K7 billion towards rehabilitation of farmland that was affected by the January flooding.

“What we need to do is to put in place stringent regulations to protect the environment, especially trees. Government should put in place and spearhead a national re-afforestation programme. Honestly, the annual tree planting season has become

Honestly, the annual tree planting season has become Chiyembekeza: We have a number of strategies PHOTOGRAPHs:

Chiyembekeza: We have a number of strategies

PHOTOGRAPHs: NATION
PHOTOGRAPHs: NATION

Nkhono-Mvula: Agriculture productivity is affected

too routine to the extent that trees are only planted on the launch day and that is all,” says Nkhono Mvula. “Companies that use firewood or its products must be obligated by law to plant

a certain number of trees in

a year. Planting of trees by

such companies must not be a corporate social responsibility but an obligation from the law.” The Ministry of Agriculture could not quantify the total volume of top soil that is

washed away every year in this

country.

But the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) estimated that 42 000 hectares of farmed land was destroyed and 100 000 tonnes of crops lost in the January floods. Commissioner and Principal Secretary for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), Paul Chiunguzeni, says forests help tame floods as tree canopies break the strength of the rain drops and facilitate the permeation into the soil of the weakened drops. “Where there are no trees, the rain water collects on the surface and easily builds up into flooding. This process leads to the washing away of mainly the top soil which is very crucial for agricultural productivity,” says Chiunguzeni. NkhonoMvulaaddsthatwhile looking at forest management as a way of curbing flooding, government should also put in place policies that will help check cultivation of crops in river banks and forbid building of houses in such areas. Some of the communities impacted during flooding are those whose houses and crops are within a few metres from the river banks, says director of Leadership for Environment and Development – Southern and Eastern Africa (Lead-SEA), Professor Sosten Chiotha. In most cases, he adds, some of the affected communities are in areas known to be prone to regular flooding such as is the case with the Lower Shire. “We are also calling upon government to have a special policy on agroforestry and our extension services must be capacitated in the promotion of agroforestry,” added Nkhono Mvula. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, says it is promoting conservation agriculture alongside agro- forestry so as to renew the depleted soils. This, the ministry says, is being promoted together with the use of inorganic fertiliser. Vetiver grass and contour bunds are also used. c

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aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe

advertorial

Lifuwu: Centre of excellence in rice research in Malawi

IRON MSISKA

Staff writter

C limate change is a major challenge most countries,

including Malawi, are grappling with. Weather variability has increased incidents of droughts, diseases and pests, forcing governments to turn to research for solutions. One institution that is crucial in generating new knowledge and technologies to beat climate change is Lifuwu Research Centre and Rice Scheme in Salima. Lifuwu is a centre of excellence in rice research. Since its establishment in 1971, Lifuwu has been at the centre of rice agronomic practices and seed

certification. This paid off as it has seen many farmers accessing quality rice seeds which turn exponentially increased yields. “At the moment, Lifuwu Research Centre has Katete, Mpatsa and Kayanjamalo rice varieties which are yet to be released to local farmers. In fact, we are yet to start promoting the new varieties among rice farmers in the country,” said farm manager Stephano Chinkondenji. The varieties have been released by the Malawi Government in partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) through the Department of Research in the Ministry of Agriculture,

Irrigation and Water Development. Chinkondenji said Katete variety is aromatic and yields up to 6.05 metric tons of unmilled rice per hectare. It matures within 94 days and is resistant to a number of diseases whereas Mpatsa variety is slightly aromatic and yields up to 5.8 metric tons of unmilled rice per hectare. It matures within 100 days and is resistant to the rice blast and brown spot diseases. “Kayanjamalo variety is moderately aromatic and yields up to 6.5 tons of unmilled rice per hectare. It matures within 110 days and is also resistant to the rice blast and brown spot diseases,” he said.t. c

Tithokoze: Farming the natural way

FATSANI GUNYA

Staff writter

A s production of most

farms is shrinking

due to climate change,

Tithokoze Farm is increasing

its

products. The farm seems

to

have clue on how best to

beat climate change. The farm is strategically

located on the Mchinji Road, 22 kilometres from Lilongwe City where the demand for

its produce is high.

As most local farms concentrate on traditional crops such as maize, groundnuts and tobacco,

Tithokoze Farm opts to grow vegetables and fruits. Tithokoze is generally

a horticultural farm and in future, it plans to start growing flowers for commercial purposes.

by

PricewaterHouseCoppers shows that Malawi is lagging behind other African countries in horticulture. Kenya, for example, exported about U$709 million (about

A

study

K390 billion) worth of vegetables, fruits and flowers in 2006. TithokozeFarmmanaging

director Cosmas Katulukira said they want to provide

a steady market for fresh

vegetables and fruits to

schools, colleges, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals and residents of Lilongwe City. “We know we cannot satisfy the demand of the

city single-handedly and this takes us to our secondary objective which is to act as a model farm where farmers who want to venture into horticulture can learn how

to grow, manage and market

vegetables and fruits,” he

said.

The farm is about 11 hectares and has 1 500 banana plantations, 150 mango and 200 pawpaw trees.

“We also use greenhouses

to ensure that production is

done throughout the year,” said Katulukira. The farm has huge

quantities of non-grafted fruit seedlings such as banana, lemon, paw paws, mulberry and guavas; and the grafted ones such as tangerines, mangoes,

oranges, avocado pears for sale to both individual farmers and organisations. But what makes the farm excel? “We are in constant touch with experts who provide us with technical support. We also access information on the Internet on acceptable agronomic practices worldwide,” he said. Tithokoze Farm has 20 permanent employees.

Some of their customers are Malawi Catering Services, Kamuzu Barracks, Shoprite, Malawi College of Health Sciences, Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel, Sunbird Capital Hotel and several individuals. The farm also grows

maize, cassava and sweet potato and shortly it will venture into bean and groundnut growing. c

The farm also grows maize, cassava and sweet potato and shortly it will venture into bean

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aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe

advertorial

27 2015 aGriculture: amid climate cHaNGe advertorial Peacock Seeds dominates local DTMA ranking A t a

Peacock Seeds dominates local DTMA ranking

A t a conference

organised by

CIMMYT – IITA

in Lesotho early August, Malawi won the 2014/15 CIMMYT – IITA Best MaizeSeedDissemination Team in Southern Africa with Peacock Seeds maize varieties taking positions one, two and three on individual rankings. The Malawi team includes researchers and companies that are reproducing varieties released in liaison with CIMMYT, an international research institute for wheat and maize which has been promoting Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa - DTMA’s adoption. With Chitedze Research Station as its national focal point led by scientist Kenzwell Kaonga, supported by Cyprin Mwale, they link with CIMMYT research

teaminHarare,Zimbabwe and provide technical assistant to small and medium scale seed companies in promoting the adoption of DTMA’s across the country using demonstration plots, preference trials, production and distribution of IEC materials and field days. Using the preferential trials, CIMMYT ranked the varieties under its project and Peacock Seeds varieties have out shown others with Peacock 10 taking first position, CAP9001 coming second and Peacock MH30 third. These three varieties are bled to withstand droughts, diseases and using the least available moisture in the field to produce good yield. These varieties are therefore farmers’ best weapon against climate change. Evident in Peacock

Seeds motto, for wealth creation, it is the company’s desire to create an enabling environment for wealth creation in Malawi by making available and accessible improved hybrid seeds for farmers who are the backbone of the country’s economy. Bleeding of DTMAs under the CIMMYT project has seen Malawi releasing open pollinated maize varieties such as ZM309, ZM 523, ZM623, ZM721 and hybrids such as MH36, Peacock MH30, Peacock 10, MH33, and MH31 which are being multiplied, packaged, marketed and traded by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) like Peacock Seeds, Pathochi, Funwe Farm and CPM, Demeter and many others that have emerged in the advent of the project. c

Peacock Seeds, Pathochi, Funwe Farm and CPM, Demeter and many others that have emerged in the

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aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe

FeatuReS

PHOTOGRAPH: NATION
PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

Most NGOs are promoting climate change smart agriculture to mitigate effects of weather variability

Sting of climate change

DYSON MTHAWANJI

Staff reporter

W hen Felix Jumbe grew

maize on his 300-

hectare Peacock Farm

in Nkhotakota last year, he expected to harvest between 80 and 90 tonnes. But Jumbe, who is member of Parliament (MP) for Salima Central Constituency and chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, only harvested 15 tonnes. It does not mean he did not work hard in the field. He says climate change led to the poor yield.

“Climate change has negatively affected many farmers, including me. Last growing season, I only harvested 15 tonnes on an area where I could have harvested 80 tonnes or more of maize seed,” says Jumbe. Malawi’s economy remains agro-based. The agriculture sector accounts for more than 80 percent of export earnings, contributes 36 percent towards the gross domestic product (GDP) and provides livelihood to 85 percent of the population. This means if the sector encounters challenges, such as climate change, the economy as a whole suffers.

Like other African countries, Malawi is experiencing high temperatures, dry spells and erratic rainfall patterns. Climatic change has several implications on agriculture and human welfare. Dry spells and erratic rains lower crop output. Heavy downpours have led to floods which have caused crop loss, leaving subsistence farmers with insufficient food. These implications have forced organisations and individuals to work hard in search of solutions. For example, the Dan Church Aid (DCA) is promoting irrigation farming at Bangula in Nsanje as one

way of ensuring that people have food at all times amid climate change. “Irrigation farming enables farmers to grow crops twice or thrice in a year,” says DCA programme officer for the Right to Food Project, Melina Mtonga. Mtonga says following the unpredictability of the rains due to climate change, it is risky for the country to solely rely on rain-fed agriculture. Irrigation farming is the way to go, she says. Changes in rainfall patterns have resulted in changes in the growing seasons as well. Not so long ago, farmers used to grow crops in October

but all that is now history with the advent of climate change. Most farmers are now uncertain on when they will plant. They opt for short-season hybrid varieties because the growing season has shortened. Rainfall patterns have hindered the growing of long- season local maize varieties and forced farmers to switch to more expensive hybrid crops. That is not easy considering that about 6.3 million Malawians live below the poverty line of $1 a day. Jumbe blames deforestation,

considering that about 6.3 million Malawians live below the poverty line of $1 a day. Jumbe

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22 Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 FeatuReS aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe PAGE 21

22 Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015

FeatuReS

aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe

auGuSt 27 2015 FeatuReS aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe PAGE 21 among others, for causing climate change.

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among others, for causing climate change. “The problem is that people have cut down trees in large numbers. People are cutting down trees without planting new ones. This is dangerous. Many factories produce carbon which covers the ozone layer. “Trees [absorb carbon dioxide and] produce oxygen which cleans the ozone layer. So with deforestation in many areas, there is less oxygen to clean this layer. As a result, we have delayed rainfall,” says Jumbe. The deforestation rate in Malawi is at 2.8 percent per year, one of the highest in southern Africa. It causes water scarcity and reduced capacity for absorbing carbon, thus increasing effects of climate change. Deforestation in Malawi is hugely attributed to charcoal production. Few people have access to electricity in Malawi; hence the demand for energy is high with those living in towns and cities looking for more charcoal. Published findings by the Malawi Government with support from a joint United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI), Ntcheu is one of the districts that produce a lot of charcoal in Malawi. “Forests have been destroyed leaving the hills bare and this has negatively affected agriculture,” reads the findings. Traditional Authority Makwangwala says chiefs in the district have come up with different initiatives to replant trees in bare places. “Climate change has adversely affected us here. In my area, we have formed villagesecurityteams.Avillage security team comprises young men who move around checking whether people are cutting down trees in community forests without permission. Culprits are fined accordingly,” says Makwangwala. Last year, the Department of Energy Environmental

Impact of weather variability

PHOTOGRAPH: NATION
PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

Affairs estimated that household firewood and charcoal consumption was at 7.5 million tonnes per annum. This exceeded sustainable supply by 3.7 million tonnes, leading to an annual destruction of between 50 000 and 75 000 hectares of natural forests. The Malawi Government’s economic analysis study in 2011 indicates that over 80

Climatic change has several implications on agriculture and people

percent of Malawians depend on agriculture as their main economic activity and a major source of livelihood; hence the country’s top soil remains an important natural resource. Thus, if the top soil keeps being washed away, this group will keep suffering. “Farmers have to be taught climate-smart agriculture technologies to enable them

to mitigate and adapt to climate change with ease. Again investments are needed, but this remains a challenge in a country where government is spending more than what it can make causing high inflation, high interest rate and where exports are lower than imports with a trade imbalance of over $1 billion annually,” says Jumbe.

“Climate change is a solvable problem. Let’s join hands and

bring laws that can bring back forests in our communities.

In Sweden, if one cuts a tree,

a law forces them to plant

five trees. As a result, there are trees all over the country.

Malawi and other countries

can emulate this and in future climate change will be a thing

of the past.” c

Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015

23

Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 23 aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe FeatuReS PAGE 24 associated
aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe

aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe

FeatuReS

27 2015 23 aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe FeatuReS PAGE 24 associated with a later start to

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associated with a later start to the season, earlier rainfall cessation, increases in mean dry spell length and reductions in rain day frequency in most parts of southern Africa, including Malawi. These predictions exhibit a decrease in mean cumulative rainfall over most parts of Malawi ranging from -4.8 to -0.7 percent in annual rainfall changes from 2010 to 2075. Thus, for sustainable dairy production, there is need to reducing GHGs emission and develop strategies to help dairy farming not only adapt to climate change, but also to thrive in the changed environment. Improving animal productivity reduce enteric methane emission by 20 to 30 percent. Increasing concentrate levels at high level of feed intake reduces enteric methane emissions by 25 percent while the use of high quality forages and pastures can reduce enteric methane by 25 percent. In general, increasing animal productivity through improvements in animal nutrition, fertility, genetics and management reduces CH4 output per unit of desirable product e.g. milk. It is high time we started thinking of breeding dairy cows that are tolerant to the changed environment, but with high milk production. Genetic improvement of livestock has had a major impact on productivity, resource use efficiency and food security in many temperate countries. Being permanent, cumulative and usually highly cost-effective, genetic improvement has huge potential value in most countries in need of improved food security. But genetic improvement efforts should rely on appropriate breeds and breeding strategies to improve productivity without compromising the environment. Smallholder dairy farming is becoming increasingly important. This is because of its potential to substantially contribute to sustainable

Climatechange, dairyproduction:

Where do they meet?

PHOTOGRAPH: NATION
PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

household livelihoods through economic well-being, household food security and nutritional stability. But to make it more

effective and sustainable, it is important that appropriate strategies are correctly chosen based on production systems to both mitigate and adapt to

Floods affect quality of pasture for livestock

climate change.

*Dr Mizeck Chagunda is a Reader in Dairy Science at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

and a former lecturer at Bunda College. He is currently involved in several livestock improvement projects in Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.c

24 Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015 aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe FeatuReS PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

24 Special pullout tHe NatioN auGuSt 27 2015

aGRicultuRe: amid climate cHaNGe

FeatuReS

PHOTOGRAPH: NATION
PHOTOGRAPH: NATION

Livestock is one of the enterprises heavily affected by climate change

Dairy farming at crossroads

Mizeck chagunda*

ReadeR in daiRy Science

G lobally,

s

to

greenhouse gases (GHGs)

emissions.

main

contributors

change due to their ability to cause global warming.

most

methane.

Fermentation of feed in the

rumen

called enteric fermentation—

is the largest source of

potent

n

livestock

t

r

i

b

the

to

the

is

u

t

e

climate

ruminants—also

c

o

significantly

are

of

GHGs

of

GHGs

One

anthropogenic

methane

emissions.

Globally,

according

to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, GHGs emissions from agriculture represent about 10 to 12 percent of the total anthropogenic GHGs emissions. Although this is the case, the whole scenario tends to be a double edged sword as livestock farming is one of the enterprises that is being and will be heavily affected by climate change. Dairy farming, like all other ruminant production systems, is vulnerable to climate change in two main ways. Increase in temperature

affects livestock in several ways such as heat stress, introduction of new diseases and increase in parasite burden. Low and erratic rainfall affect feed and water availability, animal health and leads to reduced milk production. Warmer and drier conditions increase the likelihood of heat stress in cattle. Dairy cattle, especially exotic breeds such as Holstein Friesian are susceptible to heat stress. Heat stress adversely affects reproductive performance of farm animals. This is obviously not good for a sector that is aiming

to grow. Dairy cows produce little milk when they are under heat stress. Changes in rainfall patterns affect pasture and crop growth. This affects the quality and quantity of both feed grains and fodder production which is vital for a health dairy production sector. Further, droughts lead to water shortage which in turn leads to a decrease in milk production. There is also ample evidence that climate change and variability has an impact on livestock disease prevalence. Good examples are the rapid spread of bluetongue

across Europe and the spread of Rift Valley Fever in some parts of Africa which resulted from severe floods. All these examples are related to climate change. Climate change prediction models paint a bleak picture for Malawi. A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) highlights thatglobalwarmingisprojected to increase temperature by 2 to 3ºC by 2050, with a decline in rainfall and water availability. Other recent reports predict shorter rainfall seasons

by 2050, with a decline in rainfall and water availability. Other recent reports predict shorter rainfall

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