Saturday, May 22, 2010

Maize crop yield hits all-time high

Maize crop yield hits all-time high
By Fridah Zinyama
Sat 22 May 2010, 04:00 CAT

ZAMBIA has produced the highest quantity of maize ever recorded in the country’s history at 2.8 metric tonnes for the 2009/2010 farming season. There has been a marked improvement in other major staple crops such as sorghum, rice, groundnuts, Irish potatoes and cassava as well.

Presenting the crop forecasting survey for 2009/2010 agricultural season and the food balance status for 2010/2011 marketing season, agriculture minister Peter Daka said the last time Zambia had come close to this high production was in the 1988/89 season when 1.9 metric tonnes of maize was produced.

“According to the crop forecasting results, the food security situation in the country is favourable,” he said, adding that once again Zambian farmers had this year managed to produce enough food to feed the nation as well as a substantial surplus to allow for both adequate replenishment of the national strategic reserves and exports.

Daka said due to the relatively favourable production experienced in the previous season, the country had a large amount of maize carry-over stock amounting to 298,681 metric tonnes.

“Adding the maize carry-over stock from last season to the maize production for 2009/2010 agricultural season brings the total available or supply of maize for the 2010/2011 marketing season to over three million metric tonnes,” he said.

Daka said the national food balance sheet for the 2010/2011 marketing season based on the crop forecasting survey for the 2009/2010 agricultural season indicated that the country had produced sufficient maize for both human consumption and industrial use.

“For an estimated population of 13.3 million people, the food balance sheet shows that total maize required for human consumption amounts to about 1.3 million metric tonnes,” he added.

“The estimated maize requirement for industrial use, specifically stock feed and breweries is 230,000 metric tonnes.”

Daka said when total maize requirements were netted out of total maize availability, the food balance sheet indicated that the country had recorded a maize surplus of over one million metric tonnes.

“The total maize requirement includes an anticipated government strategic reserve stock of 200,000 metric tonnes for the Food Reserve Agency,” he said.

“Total maize production this season has increased by 48 per cent or 908,473 metric tonnes, from about 1.8 million metric tonnes in the 2008/2009 season to about 2.8 million metric tonnes in the 2009/2010 season.”

Daka said the area on which maize was planted had also increased by 14 per cent or 116,802 hectares to 1,242,268 hectares from 1,125,466 hectares.

“The increase in maize this year is largely attributed to the good price farmers received last season and the adequate rains that were experienced in most parts of the country,” he said. “The relatively attractive price offered to farmers last marketing season, contributed to the increase in production this season.”

Daka said farmers also used hybrid seed rather than recycled or local seed this season in comparison to the 2008/2009 season.

“The area planted to maize and the average yield for maize has also increased thereby improving overall production. The average yield for maize in the 2009/2010 season increased significantly by approximately 34 per cent to 2.2 metric tonnes,” said Daka.



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