Biodiversity Conservation Initiative reintroduces Indigenous Crops

Written by  Chimwemwe Milulu

Considered unimportant and slowly being forgotten, indigenous crops such as pearl millet, finger millet, pigeon peas, cow peas and sorghum are not only nutritious, drought resistant and cost effective as they need little or no fertilizer but also adaptive to particular areas, according to research.

Some of the Local Crops Some of the Local Crops

For this and other reasons, the Development Fund of Norway - DFN, says there is need to promote crop diversification, including indigenous crops, as one way of enabling smallholder farmers in the country to adapt to effects of climate change.

Recently, the Norwegian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, Hanne Blafjelidal, was on a two-day tour of some of the areas in the North that are benefitting from the Benefit Sharing Project managed by the FAO with funding from the Development Fund of Norway and other partners.

‘It is quite important that farmers grow different crops including local varieties which tend to be drought and disease resistant, among other benefits. In Norway, we also buy seeds from different countries and keep it which, in turn we distribute to farmers in different countries,’ said the Norwegian Deputy Minister.

The implementing agency, Biodiversity Conservation Initiave, BCI, organized the tour in collaboration with Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy, CEPA, which culminated into a Seed and Food Fair at Mpherembe in Mzimba District.

During the fair, farmers displayed indigenous crop varieties and locally prepared dishes.

According to the FAO Secretary for the Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, Kent Nnadozie, the Benefit Sharing Project is achieving its objectives.

‘The project is receiving financial and technical support from different partners and the collaboration between our office in Rome and the other stakeholders is making it happen. We are impressed with what we have seen farmers in Malawi are doing and good progress is being made,’ he said.

The project is currently being implemented in Rumphi, Mzimba in the Northern region and Chikwawa District in the South to promote sustainable agriculture.

The Development Fund of Norway is coordinating the current project in Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia and Ethiopia through their regional office in Addis Ababa.

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