Extension services valuable in crop diversification – HIVOS

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HIVOS Regional Advocacy Manager for Sustainable Food in Southern Africa William Chilufya has stressed the need for more extension officers to increase knowledge amongst farmers and also end mono-cropping.

Chilufya observed that the low number of extension workers meant that an ordinary farmer would not easily access agricultural information necessary to make informed decisions.

He said one extension officer serving upto1200 farmers as shown by The National Agriculture Extension and Advisory Service was inadequate.

“Incase of fall army worms, extension services are there to help the farmer manage the army worms and prevent devastation of crops. The role of extension services is invaluable in teaching farmers how to improve their productivity,” Chilufya said.

“Generally, agricultural extension officers can be defined as the officers who deliver information inputs to farmers,” he added.

On crop diversification Chilufya said extension services were critical to helping farmers on how to go about managing a new crop.

“Our agriculture production is low and characterized by mono cropping of maize – this has to change if we re to achieve high production of different type of food crops which will contribute to diversity in food consumption,” he said.

“Lots of farmers are doing mono-cropping of maize but with climate change they need to go beyond maize into cassava, millet and sorghum as an example. This requires extensive extension services.”

Chilufya has since appealed to the Government to employ more extension workers with capacity to share information and train farmers in the field.

He said the extension workers should be able to move from one place to the other without difficult.

Meanwhile, Chilufya says Climate Change which has affected some parts of the country will affect Crop production.

“above all there is need for continuous training or capacity building of extension officers so that they are well equipped with current and appropriate information necessary for the farmers to make favourable decisions,” said Chilufya.

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