Good rains expected this summer
(Your friend in livestock farming)
The Director of Meteorology in the ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Emmanuel Dlamini, has revealed that above average rainfall is expected this year in the region. Dlamini said this when he returned from a Southern African Climate Outlook Regional Focus conference where they were discussing climatic conditions in the region.
Dlamini said his department was still going to analyse the data further to determine the distribution of rainfall in the country this year and then predict, with reasonable accuracy, how much rain we should expect this spring and summer.
This information is crucial to farmers and they use it to plan farm activities during the year.
Farmers are warned that the above average rainfall expected this year could be both good and bad news as we are living in the era of climate change. Above average rainfall could come with severe flooding and destruction of fields, roads, bridges, houses and could even trigger mud slides that could kill people.
This is already happening in some parts of the world where severe flooding has destroyed crops, property and infrastructure. However, one is hopeful that Mother Nature will not be destructive this year and we will get good rainfall that will be a catalyst to food production and economic growth.
Storm water management
Your friend urges farmers to prepare for all eventualities this year that could be triggered by climate change.
Firstly, farmers need to protect their farms and fields from soil erosion and flooding that might strike at anytime this summer. Storm water management is key to conserving agriculture and protecting the environment. Unmanaged storm water could cause severe flooding and soil erosion which could render parts of a farm inaccessible and valuable arable land could be lost forever if farmers are not proactive. Failure to manage storm water could force some farmers to construct expensive foot bridges that would be needed to reach other parts of their farm.
Farmers should also maintain earth dams in their farms. This is the right time to remove silt that normally accumulates at the bottom of the dams. Removing the silt would increase the dam capacity and reduce the risk of the dam walls collapsing and causing damage in the farm. All this can be avoided with good planning.
Method of land preparation
It is time for farmers to decide what method of land preparation they are going to use this coming planting season. Farmers can use conservation agriculture (no till method) or normal land preparation. Conservation agriculture is the least costly land preparation method one can use on the farm and offers the farmer the ability to manage soil and wind erosion that is enhanced by intensive soil tillage and handling.
Given the predicted above average rainfall in the region, your friend encourages farmers who have not used conservation agriculture to try it this year. Secondly, the rising cost of land preparation and increasing risks of soil erosion makes conservation agriculture a viable option.
Farmers who have never tried conservation agriculture are encouraged to start experimenting with it and compare land preparation costs and yields. It is never too late to start.
Plant drought resistant crops
While there is a good possibility that we will get good rainfall this year, farmers are encouraged to start producing drought resistant cash crops.
There are a number of crops one could choose to produce on a farm. It is important to study the markets and then identify those crops that are in demand and start producing them.
Cotton is one of drought resistant cash crops that farmers could produce in the country. Cotton is in big demand in international markets and the benefits of producing it are increasing every year. For instance, the good price of cotton in Swaziland is the main reason why many farmers have started producing it. Secondly, the guaranteed harvest is the second reason why cotton production has become the viable option for many farmers in the middle and lowveld regions of Swaziland.
Farmers who would like to know what kinds of drought resistant cash crops they could produce in their areas should consult the extension officers in the ministry of Agriculture.
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