It will help to improve and increase soil fertility and productivity
11 February, 2017, Kigali – A regional training workshop on a guide for using cover crops to sustainably increase maize production is sub-Saharan Africa took place from 8 to 10 February 2017 in Kigali and brought together delegates representing agriculture extension services, but also civil society and researchers from Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda and Zambia, identified as focus countries of a FAO Regional Initiative on Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture Production and Value Chains.
The workshop aimed at strengthening capacities of the focus countries’ extension workers on the use of efficient resources, in particular cover crops in maize production by creating and disseminating a guide that was developed with the support of the FAO Strategic Programme’s Major Areas of Work on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity.
According to the FAO Representative to Rwanda, Attaher Maiga, integrating legume crops with maize as either through intercropping or rotation has numerous benefits that include positive impacts on soil fertility and maize yields.
“Improving yields while at the same time mitigating negative environmental effects through sustainable intensification is a critical step in Africa’s continuing development”, he emphasised. Maiga also recalled that cover crop practice is highly recommended in Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), on lands that are nutrient deficient and/or prone to erosion and drought.
The 3-day workshop concluded with recommendations for actions, not only to enhance networking for sharing of experiences among countries, but also to encourage as many farmers as possible to adopt good practices in the four countries.
The Director general of Crop Development at Rwanda Agriculture Board, Charles Murekezi said he believed the guide on cover crop was a suitable approach to ensuring availability of water in the ground, increasing soil fertility while improving the maize value chain.
On the guide, participants committed to improve the guide and make it very practical in the focus countries and enable them prioritizing the use of cover crop. They will also share knowledge and contribute to strengthening the capacity of the local communities, especially women.
“The training workshop has reinforced our knowledge about cover crops and the role in the improvement of soil fertility and productivity. We are more united and convinced that we need to promote the use of cover crop in Africa”, said Fagaye Sissoko, an agronomist at the Institut d’Economie Rurale in Mali.
FAO calls for an agricultural production system that is more productive, sustainable and resilient to the extreme climate shocks and threats due to climate change that countries are facing.
The new Guide is a contribution to the 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP), just officially closed in Burkina Faso.