Sustainable Farming Practices

The year is soon coming to an end. This implies that the rainy season is around the corner for most parts of the country, while some have already received some showers in the past few days. For the farmer, this is a very important time of the year in which they prepare for the coming season. During this preparation stage, it is noble to think green, consider the environment and how it is impacted by your farming activities.

What Should Farmers Do?

  • Avoid or minimise practices that result in soil erosion such as tillage.  Traditional ploughing (tillage) prepares fields for planting and prevents weed problems, but can cause a lot of soil loss as it loosens soil particles leaving them vulnerable to wind and water erosion. No-till, reduced till or zero tillage methods, which involve inserting seeds directly into undisturbed soil, can reduce erosion and improve soil health.
  • Adopting agroforestry practices. By mixing trees or shrubs into their operations, farmers can provide shade and shelter to protect plants, animals, and water resources, while also potentially offering additional income.
  • Construction of conservation works such as terraces and contours. This greatly protects the soil from erosion especially by water in sloppy areas.
  • Ploughing across slopes on steep land also goes a long way in reducing erosion.
  • Plant vertiver, Katambora, couch, sporobulu (shambo) and star grass in gullies and eroded places and plant trees for conservation purposes and wind breaks
  • Inspect grass buffer strips, contour ridges and storm drains for any damage caused by heavy rains
  • Strengthen weak places in contour and remove the high spots in water channels
  • Avoid stream bank cultivation. Observe 30 metre buffer distance from the highest flood level of all rivers and streams and dams when cropping.

What is Stream Bank Cultivation?

This is cultivating within 30metres from the highest flood level of a bank of a water body such as river, stream, lake, dam or weir.

What are the effects of Stream Bank Cultivation?

Stream bank cultivation has immediate and long term consequences. It results in soil erosion which in turn causes siltation of water bodies. Also, farm chemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides can be washed into water bodies thus polluting the water.  In the long run, this practice causes water shortages. Silted water bodies can only hold water for short periods of time.  This affects water availability in areas where people’s livelihoods depend on water.

What the Law Says

According to the Environmental management Act Chapter 20:27 as read with Statutory Instrument 7 on Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection Regulation, it is an offence to degrade rivers and banks through unsustainable practices such as stream bank cultivation.

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The Environmental Management Agency is a statutory body responsible for ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and protection of the environment, the prevention of pollution and environmental degradation, the preparation of Environmental Plans for the management and protection of the environment. It was established under the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27] and operationalised on the 17th of March 2003 through SI 103 of 2003.

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