IN a development that dovetails with Government’s devolution agenda, agricultural experts have urged farmers to use locally available resources for crop and livestock production saying the move was a sustainable way of improving agro-ecology rather than use expensive chemicals and fertilisers.
Matopo district field officer for Enhanced Resilience for Vulnerable Households in Zimbabwe (ERVHIZ), Tatenda Mudavanhu yesterday said locally available resources were sustainable options that are not harmful to health.
ERVHIZ is funded by the European Union through Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UNICEF, Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT) as well as the Government to improve agro-ecology by using locally available resources for crop and livestock production.
Mudavanhu told The Herald at the on-going Zimbabwe Agricultural Show that the use of locally available resources for crop and livestock production was essential because it was a sustainable way of doing agriculture.
“The use of locally available resources is vital because it is a sustainable way of agriculture. Our main objective is to promote agro-ecology through the use of locally available resources for crop and livestock production. We are encouraging farmers to run away from the use of chemicals and fertilisers through the use of organic things.
“Besides being expensive, cancer, heart diseases have become rampant as a result of these chemicals. They have residual or after effects, so we are trying to go organic. One good example is the use vermi compost. It contains worms known as red wickler worms. They will digest grasses and some soils. We then use that organic matter as fertiliser, which is rich in nutrients that are essential for plant growth. We call it vermi compost,” Mudavanhu said.
He added that vermi compost was a multi-purpose thing. Besides getting fertiliser, we could also use this as animal feeds for chickens, goats and we could also sell them to fishermen because they use worms during fishing. Also, the water that would be dripping from the vermin compost box known as vermi tea could be used for pests control and as folia top dressing.
Matabeleland is an arid region and most farmers depend on livestock farming.
“Matabeleland is a natural region five. We receive a maximum of 350 millimetres. The pastures are inadequate so we have to supplement stock feeds for our livestock to survive especially during the dry season.
“We encourage our farmers to grow fodder during the rainy season, harvest and bail it before keeping it safe for future use. Farmers are growing velvet bean, lablab to make sure that our livestock will have enough feeds even in drier season,” he said.
As a way of promoting agro-ecology, farmers are also using bush meals to supplement livestock feeds, which is a sure way of using resources from the bush, for example, acacia seeds to formulate stock feeds.
Mudavanhu challenged farmers not to always complain about the high prices of chemicals and fertilisers whilst local resources were available around them.
A farmer from Matopo’s Ward 11, Ollie Musaleli commended ERVHIZ for coming up with the great initiative saying in previous they had suffered a lot from droughts.
“As vulnerable farmers in Matopo, we were taught to use compost manure to grow our traditional crops. In previous years, we always experienced food shortages because we did not have money to buy inputs like fertilisers and chemicals to spray pests.
“Now that we are utilising our local resources, there is no more food shortages in Matabeleland,” she said.
Another farmer from Ward 6, Sibongile Sibanda also added that the use of locally available resources would help improve the health of livestock in Matopo.
“Besides enhancing crop production, the use of locally available resources also provides a natural balanced diet for our livestock. Our livestock has good health because of the natural or traditional feeds,” she said.