Tuesday, November 18, 2008

(TIMES) Produce more food, ZNFU urges farmers

Produce more food, ZNFU urges farmers
By Times Reporter

ZAMBIA National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president, Jervis Zimba has appealed to farmers in the country to support the national agenda by producing more food crops in order to avoid food shortages.

And the ZNFU has called for an urgent meeting with the newly-appointed Agriculture Minister, Brian Chituwo, where they are expected to discuss pressing issues affecting farmers in the country.

Mr Zimba urged the Government to assist farmers in boosting their food production capacity by putting in place a pro-active quality control programme for the seeds and fertiliser being marketed in the country.

He said yesterday that it was important for the Government to control the quality of farming inputs being sold by ensuring that only genuine seeds and fertiliser were sold to avoid the problems which were experienced in the past.

Mr Zimba said in a statement which was released yesterday that farmers would deliver as long as they were provided with the right environment.

“I wish to urge farmers to support the national agenda by producing more food for the nation.

‘‘In this regard, I urge farmers to ensure that they plant early and that they use certified seed,” he said.

The ZNFU president said that one of the country’s major problems currently was productivity-related.

“The yield per hectare on average is very low. If productivity, especially for small-scale farmers was increased, Zambia can easily become the bread basket even on the same hectarage that we currently grow,” Mr Zimba said.
He urged small-scale farmers to adopt good agricultural economic practices.

Mr Zimba said some good practices such as conservation farming produced five tonnes of maize per hectare compared to conventional farming where small-scale farmers were yielding less than two tonnes per hectare.

He called on the farmers in the country to take advantage of the Meteorological Department’s assurance that the country would next year have a good rain season and produce surplus food for the nation.

Mr Zimba said during the meeting with Dr Chituwo, the farmers’ representatives wanted to, among other things, discuss the fertiliser support programme, agricultural marketing, the general rise in the cost of production, livestock diseases and council levies.

He said ZNFU would continue implementing the policy dialogue as a strategic partner to the Government.

“We will support the new minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

‘‘We have confidence Honourable Chituwo will be consultative as the agricultural industry is so diverse and dynamic such that consultation with stakeholders and acting on stakeholders’ consensus in a timely manner is so critical to ensure sustainable growth of the sector to the satisfaction of all,” Mr Zimba said.

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