Mwendalubi Kalinda, a NUST student, is conducting research on the “Evaluation of Raising Long-stem Tree Seedlings and their Performance under Dry Land Agroforestry in Zambezi Region.” Kalinda observed that despite the severe drought resulting in withered maize, most of the tree seedlings planted on trial sub-plots had survived and continued to grow. This includes over 90% of the Moringa oleifera trees, of which the leaves and pods are highly nutritious.
Salome Ngula, also a NUST student, is doing her research project on “Comparison of Ramial Wood Mulch with Cover Crop Cocktail on Dry Land Maize in Zambezi Region.”
The ramial wood is obtained by cutting leafy branches from nearby bushes and placed over the soil to avoid plant roots getting baked by the hot soil. This retains moisture in the soil and feeds useful organisms living in the soil.
Commenting on the demonstration, the Officer of the Directorate of Forestry in Katima Mulilo, Kamuhelo Lisao, said: “The trials are impressive and we thank NUST and UNAM for this initiative. It is evident that we can grow forests and agriculture to assist in combating climate change effects. My wish is for more farmers to switch to conservation agriculture in order to reduce land clearing for crop production. Through this, land use is efficient.”
The students concluded that although the branches cut from nearby bushes initially required intense labour to carry to the fields, after the agroforestry trees within the fields have grown strong, it will be much easier to obtain mulch from them through ‘chop and drop.’