Early maturing maize seed vital, farmers told

 Farmers should plant early maturing  maize seed varieties in the wake of sporadic rains recorded across the country if they are to record good yields, the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU) has advised.

CFU technocrat Rosie Pilcher told the Daily Nation yesterday that farmers still had a chance to record good harvest despite the poor rains recorded at the beginning of the rainy season by growing crops that mature early.

Ms. Pilcher explained that there was need for the farmers to realise that not all the seeds they had prepared for planting this season were conducive as late maturing seeds would disadvantage them due to delayed planting owing to a poor rainfall pattern.

“CFU advocates for early land preparation in order to capture the first planting rains straight away, and that is already past. Because of this, we advise our farmers to plant early maturing maize varieties.

“However, the farmers should not depend solely on maize, which takes a long time to mature, especially after the 20th of December but instead ensure to also plant alternatives such as sweet potato, sorghum and legumes such as cow peas,” she said.

Ms. Pilcher said the poor rains recorded at the beginning of this season were a big lesson not only to diversification but also to preparation of fields so that the moment the first rains came, they were able to plant their seeds.

“These sporadic rains are a big lesson for all farmers to do early dry-season land preparation so that they can be ready to capture the first good planting rains, and to do conservation farming which helps the plants to survive moisture stress,” she said.

Ms. Pilcher noted that the adoption of conservation farming in Zambia has already improved the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farming families.

She noted that conservation farming was working in Zambia and that it needed to be promoted as vigorously and widely as possible.

Ms. Pilcher noted that the future of small-scale agriculture in Africa would depend to a considerable extent on how one family takes care of its land.