Farm workers at work

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s rural famers are poised to address the country’s perennial hunger crisis once they are acquainted with biotechnology tactics that enhence crops production.

Biotechnology is the modern way of improving crop production that assures bumper harvests as a result of its genetic make up that withstands pests attack and dry spell conditions.

The scientific initiative is said be ideal during winter cropping through irrigation coupled with rainfed agriculture.

This is the reason the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, in conjunction with the National Commisssion for Science and Technology (NCST), this week took the biotechnology initiative to rural farmers in Lombwe Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) M’bang’ombe, Lilongwe.

The tour that incorporated the visiting Ugandan Members of Parliament, aimed at appreciating what farmers were experiencing in the absence of biotechnology.

The trip was an integral part of current NCST’ research is conducting on genetically modified organisms (GMO), particularly on crops.

Through the African Windmill Project, farmers are practising irrigation, but pests are said to be a challenge in realizing bumper harvests.

Farmers told the committee and commission that they were ready and willing to embrace bio-technology to increase their agricultural production.

“We are ready to embrace any technology that improves our production as irrigation farming is our source of income for our families. The spate of pests attack has reduced our production despite using pesticides, which is also expensive to buy,” said Thomasi Kaliten of Mkayeni Irrigation Scheme.

In her remarks, the visiting Ugandan Parliamentary Committee on ICT Chairperson, Annet Nyakecho, said Malawi is in the right direction on biotechnogies.

Nyakecho who is also the Member of Parliament for Tororo North County, added that Malawi was blessed with enough land, which if utilized could become a food basket.

The Ugandan legislator therefore, appealed for support towards rural farmers in irrigation farming to avert hunger crises.

NCST Chief Information Officer Ethel Chaweza said the trial underway will help to come up with outstanding mechanisms to address pests attacks.

“We have been told that because of the fall armyworm, they have been spraying pesticides at least once every week, which is too much for the farmers. One way of dealing with that is by using seeds that have been engineered to fight these pests,” said Ethel Chaweza.

In her remarks, Chairpeson of the Caucus Dr. Jessie Kabwila, said they will lobby for Government’s full support in irrigation to withstand the harsh climatic conditions.

“Rains are a problem and fertiliser is hard to come by. So we need methods to fight these difficult climatic conditions.

“Government should invest in irrigation machinery and get the markets because Malawi is an agrarian economy,” said Kabwila.

Malawi is currently conducting cotton, cowpeas and bananas biotech research.

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