Reuters AlertNet – Southern Africa must move on from maize-experts

Swaziland / World Mission

“MACHINGA, Malawi, May 30 (Reuters) – Southern African farmers must diversify away from their staple maize crop to more nutritious and drought resistant plants if they are to avoid further food shortages and malnutrition crises, aid workers say.

Maize has been the mainstay of the southern African diet for generations, but a series of crop failures has left millions across the region facing shortages in the last decade as farmers battle drought and the death of workers from the HIV pandemic.”

One of the surprising things I noticed while in Swaziland earlier this year was the lack of land being actively farmed. Given the amount of hunger in the nation and the high cost of bringing food into the country, I would have expected to see much more farming going on. What I did see was primarily small plots of land being used as vegetable gardens.

One of the people we met with while traveling spoke of the need to change not just the crops that are planted but also the way the crops are fertilized. Appparenlty chemicals are too expensive to use and cow manure exhausts the land too quickly. There are traditional farming methods that use compost that would increase significantly the yields of each of the small garden plots.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...