Your Reading List

Letters – for Jul. 28, 2011

The July 14 article, “Subsidies, new methods lift Zambian farm yields,” clearly positions accessing subsidies as being more important than applying the principles of conservation farming as key to increasing smallholder food production in Zambia. The experience of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is quite different.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank supports numerous conservation farming projects where the emphasis and the yield impact comes from the knowledge component of conservation farming rather than the external input of seed and fertilizer. Conservation farming is a minimum-tillage system, adapted to smallholder cereal-based farming systems that emphasize mulching, using locally available manure, and digging planting stations rather than plowing fields.

A common challenge for smallholder subsistence farmers is accessing high-quality seed and enough nutrients to increase crop yields. Dependence on seed and fertilizer subsidies from governments and development organizations is often viewed as the only and quickest solution to solve the food security problem. However, experience shows that once these subsidies are removed, smallholder farmers often return to pre-subsidy yields because they can no longer afford the expensive inputs.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank recently evaluated a conservation farming project in Zimbabwe where the focus was on training farmers to use locally available nutrient sources (manure and mulch) and developing community seed banks with open-pollinated-variety maize. Using conservation farming techniques and open-pollinated- variety maize from community seed banks, farmers increased average maize yields from 0.4 tonnes to 4.3 tonnes of maize per hectare – results that will be sustainable for years to come.

More emphasis needs to be placed on knowledge-based farming systems to increase the sustainability of agriculture development projects and improve the food security of smallholder farmers.

Alden Braul

Capacity development manager Canadian Foodgrains Bank Winnipeg, Man. like ambulances and police cruisers.

Motorists now failing to change lanes on a multi-lane highway to allow tow trucks more room to work can find themselves with a fine of $292.65.

We know that passing new legislation on a piece of paper is not going to automatically change behaviour. An intense education campaign is needed to educate Manitobans about the dangers that tow truck drivers face every day, and how by simply moving to the next lane over, you could be saving a life.

Liz Peters CAA Manitoba

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or email: [email protected] (subject: To the editor)



Stories from our other publications